The first U.S. tour of Disney's The Lion King is — no surprise — off to a good start. Tickets to the first stop for the road show, a spring 2002 Denver engagement at the Buell Theatre April 17-June 23, went on sale Nov. 25 and promptly broke box office records, selling 25,377 tickets for a total of $1.48 million.
The previous on-sale record at the Buell was set back in May 1999, and that was for two shows combined: The Phantom of the Opera and Riverdance, which together only sold 8,314 tickets for a total of $503,500.00.
The Tony Award-winning musical directed by Julie Taymor, with a score by Elton John and Tim Rice, takes the hit animated feature film as its source. Five songs from the picture are featured, with John, Rice and others (South African Lebo M and Mark Mancina, with contributions from Julie Taymor and Hans Zimmer) filling in the blanks with new songs and musical sequences rich in African flavor and tradition.
The national tour in Denver will be the show's eighth production worldwide after Broadway, Tokyo, Osaka, London, Toronto, Los Angeles and Hamburg. Preview performances begin April 17 with opening night set for April 27.
Roughly 30,000 tickets remain for Denver. To charge by phone, call (303) 893-4100 or (303) 830-TIXS. Outside Denver, call (800) 641-1222. Tickets may also be purchased at all Ticketmaster locations. Tickets are available online at www.denvercenter.org. *
As for other Disney business, Variety, in an interview with Disney Theatricals president Thomas Schumacher, reported that playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (Topdog/Underdog) had just delivered a new draft of the libretto for Hoopz, the musical about the Harlem Globetrotters. Schumacher also indicated that the next Disney project might bow in 2003, possibly in a city other than New York.