The Lion King on Broadway
When Disney’s movie version of The Lion King was first seen in 1994, it became an instant classic and it wasn’t long before production company Disney Theatrical begun working on transforming the story of a lion cub’s journey from a 2D cartoon into a 3D live experience on stage. Just three years after the film’s debut, the musical opened at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota, proving to be an instant success. It then premiered on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre on 15th October 1997 with previews, and before long, history was made.
Directed by Julie Taymor, The Lion King was loved by fans of the film and by those who hadn’t even seen it, with productions popping up all over the globe on the success of the Broadway production in New York. In 1998, The Lion King was nominated for an incredible 11 Tony Awards, Theatreland’s most prestigious honour, and went on to win 6 of them including Best Direction for a Musical and Best Choreography.
Just before the Tony Awards, the original Broadway cast of the show released a CD of the songs in the stage musical. The soundtrack includes much-loved songs such as Can You Feel The Love Tonight, The Circle of Life and Hakuna Matata, but the extra songs seen in the musical such as Endless Night and He Lives In You are also featured on the CD. African composer Lebo M composed much of the new music that can be heard in the musical.
The original Broadway cast, who can be heard on the CD, includes Sam Wright as Mufasa, Jason Raize as Simba, Heather Headley as Nala, John Vickery as Scar, Tsidii le Loka as Rafiki, Jeff Hoyle as Zazu, and Max Casella and Tom Robbins and Timon and Pumbaa.
In 2006, The Lion King moved from its original home of the New Amsterdam Theatre on Broadway to the Minskoff Theatre to make way for another Disney theatrical production, Mary Poppins. The Lion King continues to play at the Minskoff, and has recently become Broadway’s seventh longest-running show in history. As recently as November 2011, the Broadway production of the show celebrated an incredible 14 years, and with no end in sight, it wouldn’t be surprising if the show racks up another 14 years.