Hakuna matata! Lion King rules Broadway

The Lion King roars in Broadway, stealing the box office crown from Phantom of the Opera

BROADWAY KING. Disney's The Lion King is crowned the best-selling musical on Broadway. Photo from www.broadway.com

MANILA, Philippines – Simba just can’t wait to be king … king of Broadway, that is.

From the Pride Lands of Africa, The Lion King now rules over the urban jungle as the highest grossing show on Broadway. The musical adaptation of the Disney film dethroned The Phantom of the Opera over the Easter weekend.

The Associated Press reported that the cumulative gross for The Lion King is US$853,846,062, narrowly overtaking Phantom’s box office success totaling $853,122,847.

“This accomplishment belongs to our audiences, millions of whom are experiencing their first Broadway show at The Lion King,” said Disney Theatrical Productions producer and president Thomas Schumacher.

“Surely, introducing so many to the splendor of live theater is our show’s greatest legacy,” he added.

Theater buffs attribute the success of the Disney extravaganza to its family draw, ticket prices, and larger than life visuals.

“It’s a spectacle that satisfies on many different sensory elements – audio, visually, emotionally. It’s also good for all ages – just like Disneyland is,” music historian Cary Ginell told AP.

Cub vs old Phantom

Compared to the Andrew Lloyd Webber classic, The Lion King is a cub. Broadway’s new box office king has been running for just over 14 years.

Now in its 25th year, Phantom still holds the distinction of being the longest-running show. It also remains as the world’s best-selling musical with global ticket sales of $5.6-B, ahead of The Lion King at $4.8-B, according to The Express Tribune.

Plot-wise, the two also have different appeals. The Lion King tells the adventures of a young lion as he reclaims his father’s crown. It is popular among kids and families.

In contrast, Ginell said, “Phantom is kind of a live-action romance novel. I think that’s what’s attracting a huge percentage of women to the show.”

TIMELESS TALE. Even if it has been dethroned on Broadway, The Phantom of the Opera is still the world's top box office hit. Photo from www.broadway.com

Hollywood hits, Tony Awards

The two have many things in common though: Tony awards, movie tie-ins, and big names. 

Reacting to The Lion King’s Broadway success, Disney’s Schumacher said, “Naturally, we’re humbled by this milestone, a feat that can be explained in two words: Julie Taymor.”

Taymor, director, costume and mask maker of the musical, is the first woman to win a Tony directing award for The Lion King.

Music of Elton John and lyrics of Tim Rice also help make The Lion King a treat.

In the same fashion, musical giants Webber and director Harold Prince are the forces behind Phantom.

Phantom comes to Manila

The Lion King may reign in Manhattan but Phantom is bringing its “Music of the Night” to Manila.

The Phantom of the Opera will be staged at the CCP Main Theater in Manila from August 25 to October 14, 2012. The show promises to offer Filipino viewers a version with the same quality seen in Broadway or the West End.

“Our stellar cast assembles the industry’s best performers, with members coming from the UK, USA, Australia and South Africa to join forces,” said producer Tim McFarlane of the The Really Useful Company Asia Pacific. 

The Phantom of the Opera has enjoyed huge success throughout the Asia-Pacific region, having experienced sold-out seasons in cities such as Tokyo, Singapore, Shanghai, and Seoul, and I am confident that audiences in Manila will welcome the production with equal enthusiasm.” – Rappler.com

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