The Lion King is a billion-dollar musical

SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil - The Philippine Star
The Lion King is a billion-dollar musical

Presented by Michael Cassel Group and Concertus Manila in association with Disney Theatrical Productions, the musical will run at The Theatre at Solaire from March 18 to May 6.

The Lion King is the third longest running musical in theater history. It is preceded only by Phantom of the Opera and Chicago. But as far as box-office grosses go, the Disney show is in a class by itself. It is at present the biggest earning musical of all time.

As of this writing, it has already broken the glass ceiling with its gross of over a billion dollars. Remember, how Titanic became the first motion picture to make a billion at the box office? Well, in the area of theater musicals, that honor belongs to The Lion King. And people once thought that you cannot make that kind of money in the theater.

Come next week, Metro Manila and nearby areas will be adding their pesos to the overflowing coffers of The Lion King. Presented by Michael Cassel Group and Concertus Manila in association with Disney Theatrical Productions, The Lion King will run at The Theatre at Solaire from March 18 to May 6. 

The show was originally scheduled to run only until April 21 but the demand for seats exceeded initial expectations and lucky for those still with no tickets, two more weeks of performances were added to the Manila stint. Get online now to ticketworld.

It is not hard to see why The Lion King is already a hit at the box-office even before it opens out here. For one, it is a Disney musical and the name Disney is associated with enjoyable, quality entertainment that families can watch together. Second, the movie was such a big hit so all those who enjoyed it are now curious about the musical version. And then, there is the word-of-mouth factor. Everybody who has seen the show on stage these past years are in agreement that it is indeed fabulous.

The Lion King won six Tony Awards in 1998, including Best Musical, Best Scenic Design and Best Direction of a Musical

Visionary is how I describe The Lion King as a musical. It is a spectacle filled with surprises on stage. I saw it 20 years ago but to this day, I remain curious about the way it was put together. Why, it would have been so easy to put the cast in plush fabric jumpsuits to play animals. Just like stuffed toys.

But that is not the case with The Lion King. And I still marvel at how the creative team made use of masks, headgear, puppetry, would you believe even kites, and fantastic costumes to recreate the verdant scenery and exotic fauna of the Serengeti Plains?

Those combined with the soaring music score created by Hans Zimmer, the immersive African rhythms and the well-remembered pop songs by Elton John and Tim Rice transport the audience into a world of stunning beauty. I tell you that you will not be able to bat your eyes while watching.

You really shouldn’t as you will not want to miss the sight of gazelles, giraffes, ostriches, cheetahs, palm trees, grasslands and others presented in the most ingenious of ways. Scar the villain and Timon the meerkat and Pumba, the warthog are particularly interesting. And I tell you that Simba is truly impressive.

I am sure everybody will get caught up in the show’s superb staging but try not to forget there is a story behind it. This is the touching tale of Simba whom you will see before your eyes change from the curious, naughty cub to a worthy king of the jungle. He also falls in love along the way with a beautiful lioness named Nala.

And bringing everybody through the tale to the heartwarming ending are songs like I Just Can’t Wait To Be King, The Circle Of Life, Hakuna Matata, Endless Night, Shadow Land, the Academy Award-winning Can You Feel The Love Tonight and others. Of course, the dancing throughout is just magnificent.

The Lion King won six Tony Awards in 1998. These were for Best Musical; Best Scenic Design, Richard Hudson; Best Costume Design, Julie Taymor; Best Lighting Design, Donald Holder; Best Choreography, Garth Fagan; and Best Direction of a Musical also for Taymor. Take note of those names. They are the visionaries who created this groundbreaking musical. Oh, and not to forget, also a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album.







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