The Lion King is an award-winning Broadway stage musical based on the 1994 Disney animated film of the same name and is directed by Julie Taymor, featuring actors in animal costumes as well as giant, hollow puppets. The stage show first opened on July 31, 1997 in Minneapolis at the Orpheum Theatre, and was an instant and tremendous success before moving permanently to the New Amsterdam Theater on Broadway in New York City that October. A version later opened in London, and another in Toronto, playing there until January 2004. On June 13, 2006, the Broadway production moved to the Minskoff Theatre to make way for the musical version of Mary Poppins. 
U.S. and International Productions
After the success of the Broadway show, the show was produced in the United Kingdom, and continues to play at the Lyceum Theatre in London. Julie Taymor led the English production of the show, with Peter Schneider as the producer.
The show played at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney, Australia from 19 October 2003 until 26 June 2005. The production then ran at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne from 28 July 2005 until 4 June 2006.
There are currently two U.S. touring productions. The tour version is very similar to the original Broadway production; however, certain scenic elements which rise out of the stage floor (such as Pride Rock, the stampede, and the grasslands) were converted to less costly configurations for the touring productions.
International productions of the show are now playing in:
The musical incorporates several changes and additions to the storyline as compared to the film. The mandrill Rafiki's gender was changed to a female role, as Taymor believed there was generally no leading female character in the film. Rafiki was portrayed by Tsidii Le Loka in the original Broadway musical, and by Josette Bushell-Mingo in the original British version.
Several new scenes are present, including a conversation Mufasa has with Zazu about whether he is raising Simba correctly, and a perilous scene where Timon finds himself nearly drowning in a waterfall while Simba feels powerless to help him. A major narrative addition is the depiction of Nala's departure in the scene "The Madness of King Scar", where the mentally deteriorating villain tries to make Nala his mate. Nala refuses, and later announces her intention to depart the pridelands and find help. She receives the blessings of the lionesses and Rafiki during the new song "Shadowland."
Like its predecessor, the Beauty and the Beast musical, the Lion King adds more songs to its stage production, including Morning Report sung by Zazu the hornbill (a song which was later added to the film for the special edition DVD release). "Shadowland", originally featured on the CD Rhythm of the Pride Lands with Swahili lyrics, was adapted for the musical with new English lyrics. It is sung by Nala and the Lionesses. "One By One", also from the Rhythm of the Pride Lands CD, was adapted as the rousing African-styled Entre Act sung by the chorus at the opening of the second act.
Many of the animals portrayed in the production are actors in costume using extra tools to move their costumes. For example, the giraffes are portrayed by actors carefully walking on stilts. For principal characters such as Mufasa and Scar, the costumes feature mechanical headpieces that can be raised and lowered to foster the illusion of a cat "lunging" at another. Other characters, such as the Hyenas, Zazu, Timon and Pumbaa are portrayed by actors in life-sized puppets or costumes. The Timon character is described by Taymor as one of the hardest roles to master, as the movement of the puppet's head and arms puts a strain on the actor's arms, back and neck.
Composer Lebo M led the original Broadway chorus. The chorus members are usually visible in the production, rather than being hidden in the shadows as with some other musical shows.
A new section of the production, the Lioness Hunt, features a particularly complicated dance sequence for the actresses, and the dance is made even more difficult by the large headpieces worn during the scene.
During the show's run in China, Chinese elements were included in the musical. One of the songs was adapted to a well-known chinese pop song, "Laoshu ai dami" or "Mice Love Rice". The cast even cracked jokes and and attempted conversations with the audience in Chinese.
Original Broadway Cast Recording CD
Various international cast recordings are available on CD.
The show won many awards in 1997. For more information see the section below.
The show is produced by Disney Theatrical.
The Lion King was nominated for the following Tony Awards in 1997:
Original Broadway cast