Friday the 13th may have scary connotations, but not for Disney's The Lion King. On Friday, Nov. 13, the musical will celebrate one year on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre.
It's been a good year for the Disney musical and the changes Broadway has undergone since the unveiling of Simba and friends are numerous. First and foremost, the show's opening heralded the return of 42nd Street as an entertainment destination. The block between Seventh and Eighth avenues is now routinely packed during the evening hours. The artistically startling show also solidified Disney's arrival on Broadway as a creative force, as opposed to simply a financial one.
Before The Lion King, Julie Taymor was an obscure figure from avant-garde theatre circles, and puppetry was a marginal art form when related to commercial theatre. One year later, Taymor is a commercial force and burgeoning filmmaker, and puppet theatre has entered the schedules of many a New York theatre.
Disney, encouraged by its success and its clutch of awards -- the Tony and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award among them -- has moved its musical theatre program into high gear, opening Elaborate Lives: The Legend of Aida in Atlanta and preparing The Hunchback of Notre Dame for a 1999 debut in Berlin, Germany.
The Lion King will undoubtedly be celebrating further anniversaries: the musical is now taking ticket orders through Jan. 2, 2000. However, selection is limited. In fact, there are no two orchestra seats for an evening performance available through that distant date. Of course, some VIPs don't have to wait; President and Mrs. Clinton and Vice-President and Mrs. Gore saw the show on the same night, Sept. 14.