Touring Lion King Reconfigured to Fit Smaller Venues

News   Touring Lion King Reconfigured to Fit Smaller Venues
Original director-designer Julie Taymor is recreating her designs.
A scene from The Lion King.
A scene from The Lion King. Joan Marcus

Tony Award winner Julie Taymor is reconfiguring her designs for the long-running musical The Lion King for its national tour, which will roll out in October 2017.

The new designs will help the large-scale production fit into more theatres around North America, according to Disney.

Now in the 19th year of its Broadway run, The Lion King is a stage adaptation of the award-winning animated Disney film. It tells the Hamlet-like story of a young lion prince who seeks to reclaim the crown of the Pridelands after his uncle murders his father, the king. The Elton John score includes “The Circle of Life,” “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” and “Hakuna Matata.”

The current North American tour will shut down temporarily in summer 2017 for the retooling. The tour will resume in October with stops in Little Rock, AR; El Paso, TX; Eugene, OR; Sarasota, FL, and elsewhere, where Disney will roll out the newly configured production, which ”allows the award-winning musical to entertain new audiences in cities and venues which previously couldn’t accommodate the show,” according to a company statement.

“Advanced technologies, new since the tour launched in 2002, will enable the production to be more nimble and adaptable while maintaining the spectacle, scale and emotional pull of Julie Taymor’s original vision,” the statement continued. “The Tony-winning design team, led by Taymor, will re-create and refresh their original designs for this state-of-the-art physical production, which will be equal in size and scope to the current one and will continue to employ its cast on an Actors’ Equity full production contract.”

Ed Payton, CEO Celebrity Attractions, a presenter of Broadway series in Little Rock, said, “Our smaller communities love Broadway shows every bit as much as theatregoers in larger cities and no show represents premium Broadway to as many patrons as Disney’s The Lion King. Now, thanks to Disney Theatrical Productions, our audiences can experience this blockbuster in their home theater. We are thrilled to host this newly-configured tour in Little Rock, Arkansas, and look forward to The Lion King playing in more of our markets in the future.”

“I remember clearly when The Lion King opened on Broadway, the comment we most heard was, ‘you’ll never be able to recreate the spectacle on tour,’” said Thomas Schumacher, president and producer Disney Theatrical Productions. “Yet, Julie Taymor and her team cracked it and found a way to deliver the Broadway experience on the road for the last 14 years. Now, that same group of artists has used their ingenuity to deliver the show to markets we never imagined we would be able to reach because of the show’s complexity. Bringing the exhilaration of musical theatre to new audiences is our deepest passion.”

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