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The Lion King on Broadway Turns 14

If you find it hard to believe Disney’s The Lion King is 14 years old then it’s with good reason–the movie is 18 years old, as it was first released in 1994. However, the Broadway musical is 14 years old, as it was first released in 1997. The Broadway film was based on the Disney cartoon, and featured familiar songs as well as a few originals by the team of Elton John, Tim Rice, as well as Hans Zimmer (score) and Lebo M. (choral arrangements).

The play was truly something inventive and avant-garde in its own wholesome way. After all, it’s easy to turn Hamlet into a Broadway play. However, how do you turn Hamlet with a cast of African jungle animals into a Broadway play? Disney had their work cut out for them. The Lion King on stage could have been something very good or very bad. (Just look at the mixed reaction the Broadway version of Spider-Man received!)

Credit much of the play’s success to Julie Taymor who helped producers figure out a way to combine live actors with animal costumes and with puppetry! The Disney Theatrical company debuted The Lion King to great acclaim, and it was a hit at the Orpheum Theatre in Minnesota even before it hit Broadway. Today, it has been performed over 5,000 times and is ranked as the seventh longest-running show in history.

Now The Lion King is turning 14 and it just can’t wait to be king! It has grossed over $4.7 billion dollars and been seen by over 63 million people. Now is the perfect time to publicize the live action musical’s 14th birthday, as The Lion King franchise lives on. Why even Disney hasn’t stopped celebrating this timeless story. They recently released the original Lion King film in 3D and have consistently made sequels to the original story, including The Lion King 1½ (featuring Timon and Pumbaa) and The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride, which is a cheap but still ambitious project, which seeks to adapt the tale of Romeo and Juliet into traditional Disney anthropomorphism.

However, nothing can compare to witnessing the stage show of The Lion King The Musical in person! It’s a larger than life experience, not quite human, not quite nature, but ultimately unforgettable!

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