Photo credit: Catherine Ashmore

DISNEY’S THE LION KING BRINGS OVER 150,000 AUDIENCE MEMBERS TO BIRMINGHAM HIPPODROME AS THE UK TOUR DRAWS TO A CLOSE

Disney’s THE LION KING UK & Ireland Tour ended its phenomenal 11-week run at Birmingham Hippodrome on Saturday 16 September having performed to over 150,000 audience members.  The sold-out show followed a hugely successful season of Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST last year and combined the productions have brought over 200,000 audience members through Birmingham Hippodrome’s doors. Disney’s ALADDIN will fly into the venue in October 2024 as part of its first tour of the UK and Ireland.  

The date marks the end of the last UK season of this touring production of the iconic musical which opened at Bristol Hippodrome in September 2019. It is only the second ever UK Tour of the show to take place since it opened in London’s West End in 1999. The production will play at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin from Saturday 28 September to Saturday  11 November.

The internationally acclaimed production opened in Birmingham on Thursday 6 July, hosting 86 performances, including 7 access performances and a soldout Relaxed Performance for those with sensory needs.

Jon Gilchrist, Artistic Director and Chief Executive Officer at Birmingham Hippodrome said; “It’s been fantastic to have Disney’s THE LION KING with us in Birmingham over the past 11 weeks. Our mission is to provide that ‘goosebumps’ feeling through memorable and extraordinary experiences, and this certainly has been an extraordinary production. The reaction from our audiences has been really special and I’m thrilled that we have reached over 150, 000 people from across the region.”

Andrew Lovett, Chair, West Midlands Tourism & Hospitality Advisory Board, said: “The West Midlands’ cultural scene continues to be one of the region’s great success stories, providing a stage for countless emerging and established stars and performances, and contributing positively to our quality of life.

“Birmingham Hippodrome’s summer season is always a particular highlight of the West Midlands’ annual festivals and events calendar, with eagerly anticipated shows like The Lion King attracting huge audiences across their run. Major productions such as these provide a significant boost to the West Midlands’ wider hospitality scene – with bars, restaurants, hotels and transport hubs packed with theatregoers, supporting the region’s £14.1 billion visitor economy.”

In the production’s final week of the UK Tour, Birmingham Hippodrome hosted the culmination of this year’s Circle of Life Awards on Wednesday 13 September, a nationwide project run by the Disney’s The Lion King designed to empower students to create their own social action project to benefit their community. Schools from Coventry, Lincoln, Cheshire, Birmingham and Burton met the company and watched the musical whilst receiving their award for projects which covered a variety of themes that focus on improving their community.

The story of The Lion King leaps into life using spectacular masks, puppets and costumes to tell the story of Simba's epic adventures, as he struggles with the responsibilities of adulthood and becoming king.

Julie Taymor’s internationally celebrated stage adaptation of THE LION KING opened on Broadway in 1997 and 25 global productions in nine different languages have been created since then (English, Japanese, German, Korean, French, Dutch, Spanish, Mandarin and Portuguese). THE LION KING is produced by Disney Theatrical Productions, under the direction of Thomas Schumacher.

Since the UK premiere in 1999, THE LION KING London has entertained more than 18 million theatregoers and is the sixth longest-running West End musical of all time.

The stunning artistry of the production is the work of a team of designers which drew on diverse cultural influences to recreate the rich colours and vast expanses of the African savanna in this daring and inspiring reinvention of one of the most successful animated feature films of all time.

Julie Taymor, one of the world’s most innovative directors, brought a vast array of disciplines to THE LION KING, including extensive experience staging epic theatre and opera productions, exploring classic myths through ritualised puppetry, mask, and movement. The Lion King was the first musical Taymor directed in the commercial theatre and she made Broadway history by becoming the first woman to win the Tony Award® for Best Director of a Musical.  

The Broadway show’s full creative team, which won five Tony Awards® for its work on THE LION KING, reunited in 1999 to recreate the show in London. Julie Taymor and Michael Curry created hundreds of masks and puppets.

Scenic design is by British designer Richard Hudson and lighting is by Donald Holder. Costume design is by Julie Taymor, and choreography by Garth Fagan. The book was adapted by Roger Allers, who co-directed the animated feature and Irene Mecchi, who co-wrote the screenplay.

The original score from the animated film was expanded for the stage and now features 15 musical numbers.  As well as writing completely new songs, South African composer Lebo M created an evocative blend of African rhythms and chorales, with additional material by Julie Taymor and Mark Mancina.

Elton John and Tim Rice have added three new numbers to the five that they wrote for the award-winning score of the animated film. The resulting sound of THE LION KING is a fusion of Western popular music and the distinctive sounds and rhythms of Africa, including the Academy Award®-winning Can You Feel The Love Tonight and the haunting Shadowland.

THE LION KING concludes its UK & Ireland Tour at Dublin’s Bord Gáis Energy Theatre from 28 September - 11 November 2023 before heading to Theater 11 Zurich from 23 November 2023. For more information and tickets visit thelionking.co.uk.

Photo credit: Johan Persson

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