20 Years After Its Debut, ‘The Lion King’ on Broadway Still Reigns Supreme

On Monday, November 13, The Lion King reaches a historic landmark, officially marking its 20th anniversary on Broadway. The blockbuster musical’s legacy endures around the world, with 24 global productions since its debut, and Disney Theatrical Productions is celebrating this monumental anniversary in New York City, with the production that started it all.

In honor of the milestone, a free performance of the show will be held at the Minskoff Theatre in New York City on November 15; it was preceded by a special event and ticket lottery in Times Square on November 12. “Though it’s been seen around the world, The Lion King was born in New York City—from the studio in the Flatiron district where we rehearsed, to the Bronx shop where its sets were built, to its Broadway home in the heart of Times Square,” said Thomas Schumacher President & Producer, Disney Theatrical Productions. “This free performance is our chance to thank New York City for 20 years of loving support and we hope audiences who could otherwise not experience Julie Taymor’s glorious vision will join us to toast the show born here in their hometown.”

And, on November 5, Tony®-nominated composer Elton John surprised an audience of hundreds of Lion King alumni and members of the creative team, including Julie Taymor, Tim Rice, Garth Fagan, Lebo M., Mark Mancina, Roger Allers, and Irene Mecchi at a celebratory event with a performance of “Circle of Life,” joined by the entire company of The Lion King.

Following the success of the Oscar®-winning 1994 film, The Lion King debuted on November 13, 1997 at Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theatre. That same year, the stage musical won the Tony Award for best musical and director Julie Taymor became the first woman in theatrical history to win the Tony for Best Director of a Musical. Twenty years later, The Lion King is the third longest-running musical in Broadway history and continues to be a worldwide phenomenon.

Globally, The Lion King has played on every continent except Antarctica. It has been seen in more than 100 cities in 19 countries, with nine current productions worldwide. The musical been translated into nine different languages, including Mandarin during its run at Shanghai Disney Resort. More than 90 million people have seen The Lion King, making it the highest-grossing entertainment title in box office history.