On Tuesday 13th September the London Company of the award-winning stage musical The Lion King will play its 5000th performance at the Lyceum Theatre in London's West End. Now in its 12th record-breaking year, The Lion King has been seen by almost 10 million people in the UK and 60 million people worldwide, making it one of the most successful productions in theatre history.
'"People have a very emotional connection to The Lion King. Because it's literally lived in their homes as a film, as books and as music, when they experience the theatrical production, the emotions are that much more resonant," said Thomas Schumacher, President of Disney Theatrical Productions, producer of The Lion King. "We are humbled by the way London has embraced our show. This extraordinary milestone is a tribute to Julie Taymor's singular and exquisite vision for the production and to the men and women who bring it to life at the Lyceum, making performance 5000 as fresh and vital as our very first."
In celebration of reaching this landmark milestone, The Walt Disney Company will donate 5000 tickets to charities including; Mousetrap Theatre Arts, Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, the Elton John Aids Foundation, CCHF All About Kids and Flora & Fauna International, giving new audiences the opportunity to see one of the most popular musicals in the West End for free.
Based on the Academy award-winning animated film which will be released in cinemas for the first time in Disney Digital 3D from 7th October. The Lion King illustrates the journey of young lion cub Simba, as he struggles to accept the responsibilities of adulthood and his destined role of King. Acclaimed theatre director and designer Julie Taymor re-imagined the story and staged it in a unique way to incorporate elements of African art and theatrical styles from around the world. Consequently, Taymor became the first woman in theatrical history to win a Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical and Best Costume Design for her work on The Lion King.
The London Company which comprises of 46 performers is led by 11 principals: George Asprey as Scar, Shaun Escoffery as Mufasa, Stephen Matthews as Zazu, Brown Lindiwe Mkhize as Rafiki, Damien Baldet as Timon, Keith Bookman as Pumbaa, Andile Gumbi as Simba, Ava Brennan as Nala, Gary Forbes as Banzai, Jacquelyn Hodges as Shenzi and Sebastien Torkia as Ed.
In addition to the award-winning productions currently playing in London and New York, The Lion King can also be experienced internationally in Hamburg, Tokyo, and Las Vegas, Singapore and on tour across North America. It will also launch in Madrid at the Lope de Vega Theatre, on 21st October 2011 for the very first time in Spanish.
The creative team behind The Lion King consists of Director Julie Taymor, who along with designer Michael Curry, created hundreds of masks and puppets. Scenic design is by Richard Hudson; costume design is by Julie Taymor; lighting design is by Donald Holder. Choreography is by Garth Fagan. The book was adapted by Roger Allers, who co-directed the animated film and Irene Mecchi, who co-wrote the screenplay. The music and lyrics are produced by Sir Elton John and Sir Tim Rice who won an Academy® Award for the song "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" with additional musical material produced by South African Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Julie Taymor and Hans Zimmer.
This autumn, The Walt Disney Company is celebrating the Lion King around the world and in the UK not only through the cinema release in 3D but also making it available on high-definition Disney Blu-ray™ 3D, Disney Blu-ray™ and DVD from the 7th November. It will make its UK 3D TV premiere on Sky 3D in December and will arrive on Disney Cinemagic early in 2012. Walt Disney Records will release The Lion King Deluxe Edition on CD from 3rd October and Disney Stores will give fans and families the chance to get to know the great characters and savannah settings through interactive activities and competitions. Younger viewers can watch Timon and Pumbaa everyday on Disney Junior and Disneyland Paris will bring The Lion King to life at Adventureland Rhythms of the Jungle where the "Hakuna Matata" terrace becomes a drumming hotspot and will host several of the favourite characters.