The first international production of Disney's The Lion King opens Dec. 20 at the new Haru Theatre in Tokyo, Japan. Produced by the Shiki Theatrical Company under director Keita Asari and in association with Walt Disney Theatrical Productions, The Lion King opening will feature a "Royal Gala" that Japan's crowned prince and princess are expected to attend. Based on the hit Disney animated feature, The Lion King won six Tony Awards including best musical, best lighting, best scenic design, best director and costume designer (for Julie Taymor who is working on the Japanese production as well) and best choreography. Pop star Elton John penned most of the music with Tim Rice (Chess, Evita) providing lyrics. Songs include "The Circle of Life," "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?," "Hakuna Matata," "He Lives in You" and "Be Prepared."
The Shiki Theatrical Company also recently produced Beauty and the Beast, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Phantom of the Opera and a version of Cats that has been running since Jan. 4, 1995.
-- By Christine Ehren