With music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice, as well as a musical score created by Hans Zimmer and choral arrangements by Lebo M., The Lion King musical was born from the animated Disney movie that was such a hit in 1994.
The musical adaptation, directed by Julie Taymor, costumes actors as animal accompanied by giant puppets. It got its start at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis in July, 1997. A smash hit, it moved to Broadway three months later for previews at the New Amsterdam Theater, officially opening on November 13, 1997.
Warmly received by audiences and critics alike, The Lion King brought home six Tony Awards and eight Drama Desk Awards in 1998.
In mid-2006, the production moved to the Minskoff Theatre where it has become the eighth-longest running show in Broadway's history.
London opened a staging at the West End's Lyceum Theatre in 1999 that continues its run. Taymor was also at the helm of the UK production.
From 1999 to 2004, Toronto mounted their own Lion King at the Princess of Wales Theatre, while Los Angeles enjoyed a run at the Pantages Theatre from 2000 to 2003. Sydney, Melbourne, Johannesburg, Paris, Taipei, Mexico City, Madrid, and Seoul have also welcomed The Lion King for shorter runs.
A national touring company makes its way around the U.S. with only minor modifications from the Broadway rendition. At one time, two tours were mounted simultaneously. As it strives to be the entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas opened a Lion King run at Mandalay Bay in 2009.
The Lion King's story is a classic coming-of-age tale set in Africa and centered on a young lion cub named Simba who must learn the ways of good and evil from his father Mufasa in order to take his rightly place in the microcosm that is his world.
Egged on by Simba's Uncle Scar, hyenas, vultures, and wildebeests lure the young cub into harm's way. Soon enough, he meets friends in Timon, the meerkat, and Pumbaa, the warthog, who help guide him back to safety.