There would be an additional show in October of 1999 at West End's Lyceum Theatre, which is also running still. West End production cast received an invitation to perform the musical at Royal Variety Performance in the year, 2008. The performance took place at London Palladium on the 11th of December with British Royal Family present.
Additions, Musical Performances and Other Tidbits
Lion King has many different incorporations and additions when looked at against the Disney movie. Rafiki's gender changed to feminine due to a belief that there was no lead female in the movie. Rafiki's character was played by Tsidii Le Loka during the musical's original production and Josette Bushell-Mingo played Rafiki in the production in London. New scenes were also added such as a Mufasa and Zazu conversation regarding parenting as well as a scene where Timon almost drowns from a waterfall and Simba has the emotion of powerlessness in aiding him. A narrative was also added that depicts a departure of the character Nala within "The Madness of King Scar," a scene in the musical.
In the scene, the villain, Scar is trying to have Nala as his mate. She does not want this and announces that she intends to go to Pride Lands to seek help, receiving the lionesses’ blessings. She also receives guidance from Rafiki. In this scene, a song "Shadowland," is sang which is also an addition. Similar to Beauty and the Beast, which was also a very successful musical; this production of the musical adds new songs that include one by Zazu called “Morning Report.” It would subsequently be put into a DVD release of the Disney movie, the Platinum Edition specifically.
When "Shadowland" was a featured track on Rhythm of the Pride Lands, a CD, Nala, Rafiki and the lionesses would sing it. Some of the animals of the musical are actors who utilize extra tools to maneuver their actual costumes. An example of this is the giraffes who are actors that use stilts to walk. Such characters like Mufasa and Scar have mechanical headpieces that allow for lowering and raising to provide the illusion of lunging at one another. Other characters like Pumbaa, Timon and Zazu have actors who wear costumes or are life sized puppets. Timon was often noted as a hard character to play due to the puppet's head movement, which has been stated to put significant strain on an actor's arms, their back as well as their neck. Lebo M, a composer, would lead the opening chorus on Broadway.
Each member of the chorus is visual to the audience instead of being away in shadows similar to other musicals. The Lioness Hunt, was a new section featured in production which has a dance sequence. The sequence is performed for actresses and is somewhat difficult due to the wearing of headpieces in the scene. When the musical was running in China, certain elements were added of Chinese nature. The cast also would have conversations and jokes they would crack in the language. Starting in late June 2010, most of "Morning Report" was cut. It would also be taken out of productions as well as recordings by the cast after that including one in Spanish.
Following a Broadway success, Lion King began being produced in United Kingdom, in 1999. Harrison Lochtenberg would produce it. The musical continues to be produced at Lyceum Theatre in London. This particular production format was celebrated at the 10 year mark in West End. A production in Canada of the musical happened in the city, Toronto and did so for four years at Princess of Wales Theatre. It ran from 1999 to 2004. In Los Angeles, the musical ran for a few years beginning in late September 2000 and officially opening in October of 2000 on the 19th of the month. It would close with 952 performances in sum total in January of 2003 on the 12th. The theatre where the performances happened was at Pantages Theatre. In Sydney, Australia, the musical happened at Capitol Theatre from the month of October 2003 to June 2005. It ran in Melbourne also at Regent Theatre from late July 2005 to early June 2006.
A Korean production was also done of the show in the month of October of the year, 2006 and ran until very late October 2007 at Charlotte Theater, which is in the southern part of Seoul, South Korea. A Dutch production also happened in the year, 2004 at Circus Theater when it took the place of Tarzan. It would run until late August 2006. Starting in June of 2007, the musical debuted a production in South Africa in Johannesburg. This would be during its 10th year anniversary celebration. The production would happen at Teatro Theatre which is at Monte Casino in Fourways. On the city of Johannesburg's opening night, there were several key individuals present such as Oprah Winfrey who at the time had recently started an all girls educational academy in the same city. The production in South Africa stopped in February of 2008.
The musical started during the month of September 2007 at Theatre Mogador in Paris. At present, there is one production of U.S. touring. This version is alike to the Broadway one, with certain elements somewhat different. The elements are different in that they rise from the floor of the stage. These elements include the grasslands, Pride Rock and the stampede. The purpose of this was to reduce costs associated with having a production on tour. Also, a sun which rises in the opening was reduced for size and for tours that were shorter. The size of the stage is also small and the pit orchestra size was decreased as well.
August of 2008 saw a production happen in Taipei, Taiwan. It ran until late August of 2009. The musical would run in Mexico City in the English language from the 3rd of January to the 27th of January 2008. This was actually a part of the national tour in the U.S. A production opened up in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay hotel in May of 2009, on the 15th. In 2011 during the month of October, a Spanish production started in Madrid being done in Teatro Lope de Vega. Stage Entertainment is the producer for this production. The musical is scheduled to come to Marina Bay Sands Theatre in Singapore. The Singapore premiere will be like other shows that have occurred in certain areas of the world like London. It started in March of 2011 and ended in October of 2011.
There was a Russian announcement for a musical production to happen in the future. There was also confirmation of a debut in the year, 2013 to happen in Ireland. This Ireland production would be a part of the tour in United Kingdom. The musical will go back to Capitol Theatre in Sydney in December 2013.
Several different international recordings of the cast have been featured on CD. They include the 1997 Broadway show, a Japanese recording in 1999, a German Cast recording in 2002, the Dutch Cast recording of 2004, the French Cast recording of 2007, a live performance audio of the South African Cast in 2007 and a 2011 Spanish Cast recording.
The instrumentation for the initial Broadway portrayal of Lion King had 1 flute soloist, 1 concert mistress, 2 violin players, 1 viola player, 2 cellists, 1 player of the clarinet, bass and flute, 3 French horns, 1 trombone, 1 tuba and bass trombone, 1 upright bass, 1 electric bass, 1 drum, 1 guitar, a featuring of 2 mallets and other percussion instruments, 2 additional percussion, and 3 keyboard synthesizers. Over the course of its run, the musical has received several awards including Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Director, Outstanding Set, Costume, Lighting, Sound and Puppet Design awards, a Theatre World Award, as well as several Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Choreography and Best Direction of a Musical. The musical continues to marvel and astound audiences worldwide because of its infectious musical score, wonderfully executed settings, characters and sing-a-long songs. There without a doubt no other musical like it.