SHANGHAI, CHINA (FEBRUARY 21, 2006): Thomas Schumacher, President, Disney Theatrical Productions, and Stanley Cheung, Managing Director, The Walt Disney Company, together with Mr Fang Sizhong, President, Shanghai Grand Theatre today announced Disney’s award-winning musical The Lion King, will open at Shanghai’s Grand Theatre on July 18 and play for 100 performances.
The engagement will be presented by The Shanghai Grand Theatre in association with The Walt Disney Company, who is the title sponsors of the production. Special support has also been provided from the China Culture Development Fund, with media support from Wenhui-Xinmin United Press Group.
The award-winning stage version of The Lion King made a spectacular debut when it opened on Broadway in 1997. Expanded from the blockbuster Disney film, the stage version amazed critics and audiences alike with its artistic achievements and stagecraft. It has now been seen by over 34 million people worldwide with sell-out productions mounted in cities such as London, Tokyo, Toronto, Hamburg, Los Angeles, Sydney and Melbourne.
“We are delighted to be taking this production to Shanghai and thank our partners at The Shanghai Grand Theatre who have made it possible for us to play in their wonderful venue,” said Schumacher. “We’re mounting Julie Taymor’s full Broadway production so Chinese audiences will see the same show they would see in New York or London.”
“We selected The Walt Disney Company as our partner because of its entertainment industry leadership. This cooperation combines the best in the Shanghai Grand Theatres’ expertise in the arts in China, with Disney’s expertise in providing compelling content for people everywhere. The Lion King will definitely be the entertainment highlight for audiences in Shanghai and across China and Asia in 2006,” said Fang Sizhong.
“We are extremely honoured to partner with the Shanghai Grand Theatre to bring to China our most cherished Broadway show,” said Cheung. “China is a priority for the entire company and this announcement further demonstrates Disney’s commitment to this country as part of our international growth strategy,” he said. “Developing great content drives and defines our business and live shows are integral to building brand awareness here. The Lion King will deliver a new level in Disney entertainment that has not been seen in China before,” he said.
The production coming to Shanghai has most recently been playing to sold-out audiences in Australia. The international cast, with 52 performers from 12 countries, includes 8 performers from South Africa. It takes 136 people to put the show on every night and the physical set will travel to Shanghai in two specially commissioned 747 air freighters.
The Lion King follows the adventures of lion cub Simba as he struggles to accept the responsibilities of manhood and his future role as king. The Lion King is the winner of six 1998 Tony® Awards including Best Musical, eight Drama Desk Awards, six Outer Critics Circle Awards, the New York Drama Critics Award for Best Musical, the Evening Standard Award for the Theatrical Event of the Year, two Olivier Awards, a Theatre World Award, the Astaire Award for Outstanding Choreography, two Drama League Awards and a GRAMMY® Award for Best Musical Show Album of 1998.
Director Julie Taymor became the first woman in Broadway history to win the Tony® Award for Best Director of a Musical. Taymor, along with Michael Curry, created hundreds of masks and puppets for the show. Choreography is by Garth Fagan, scenic design is by Richard Hudson, costume design is by Julie Taymor and lighting design is by Donald Holder. The book has been adapted by Roger Allers, who co-directed the animated film and Irene Mecchi, who co-wrote the screenplay. The score features Elton John and Tim Rice’s music from the animated film along with three new songs by John and Rice, additional musical material by South African Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Julie Taymor and Hans Zimmer.
Tickets for the first 28 shows are on sale now. The Shanghai Grand Theatre will offer a wide range of ticketing options to cater to all audiences including the popular and innovative value-added Golden set tickets, Glory Tour tourism tickets, and Family and Student tickets. Prices for weekend tickets range from CNY800 for evening performances to CNY100 for afternoon shows. Additional ticketing options are also available. The show will run until October 8, 2006.
What the critics said,
“One of the most memorable, moving and original theatrical extravaganzas in years. It is told with a theatricality that frequently takes the breath away.”
The New York Times
“There is simply nothing else like it.”
The New York Times
“A landmark event in entertainment.”
“A wonderful, wonderful production.”
London Sunday Times
“A gorgeous, gasp-inducing spectacle.”
About Shanghai Grand Theatre
Located at the People’s Square, in the city’s heart, the Shanghai Grand Theatre occupies an area of 2.1 hectares, facing the People’s Boulevard in the south, along Huangpi Beilu in the west, next to the Shanghai Municipal Building in the East. With its unique style and beautiful outlook, the theatre is a landmark of Shanghai, and is considered the city’s centre of politics and culture. The Shanghai Grand Theatre is locally and internationally recognised for its perfect combination of art and architecture.
Since its opening on August 27, 1998 the Shanghai Grand Theatre has successfully staged international and local operas, musicals, ballets, symphonies, chamber music concerts, spoken drama and Chinese operas. The theatre has played an integral role in the growth and localization of the Chinese musical market and has encouraged the original production of local dramas and is considered an important window of cultural exchange between China and the world, and a bridge of artistic communication. Show highlights include 21 performances of “Les Miserables” in 2002, 53 performances of “CATs” in 2003, 35 performances of “The Sound of Music” in 2004, and 100 performances of “The Phantom of the Opera” in 2005.
In recent years, the Shanghai Grand Theatre has come to be the frontier of Chinese musicals. Along with the increasing acceptance and love of Chinese audiences on musical, SGT raises its requirement on selecting shows and partners. Currently, SGT is entitled to its brand power on musical operations, specialized team and market base, additionally SGT also invests on building up special musical theatre to make Shanghai the fourth Musical Centre of the world.
To learn more about the Shanghai Grand Theatre please visit www.shgtheatre.com
About Disney Theatrical Productions, Buena Vista Theatrical Group
DISNEY THEATRICAL PRODUCTIONS a unit of BUENA VISTA THEATRICAL GROUP, was formed in 1994 and operates under the direction of Thomas Schumacher. The company’s inaugural production, Beauty & The Beast, is currently the sixth-longest running show in Broadway history. In May 1997, The Walt Disney Company completed restoration of the historic New Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd Street, reopening with the world premiere concert of Alan Menken & Tim Rice’s King David. Later that same year, Disney opened The Lion King, which received six 1998 Tony Awards® including Best Musical, as well as the 1998 GRAMMY® Award for Best Musical Show Album. Now in its ninth sold-out year on Broadway, The Lion King can also currently be seen onstage in London, Amsterdam, Melbourne, Hamburg, Tokyo and two touring companies throughout the U.S. In June 1999, Disney premiered its first new musical outside the United States when Der Glöckner Von Notre Dame, an adaptation of the Disney film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, opened in Berlin. Elton John & Tim Rice’s Aida, which opened on Broadway at the Palace Theatre in March 2000, ended its triumphant four-and-a-half year run on Broadway in September 2004. Aida received four 2000 Tony Awards® including Best Music/Lyrics and the 2000 GRAMMY® Award for Best Musical Show Album. Aida can also be seen in Seoul, South Korea, and Munich, Germany. On the Record, a musical celebrating Disney’s catalogue of beloved songs, launched its US national tour in November 2004 visiting 24 cities over the following nine months. Mary Poppins, in partnership with Cameron Mackintosh, is now playing at London’s Prince Edward Theatre. Disney’s newest musical, TARZAN®, will have its world premiere at Broadway’s Richard Rogers Theatre in May 2006. Projects currently in development include The Little Mermaid, with direction by Francisca Zambello and music by Alan Menken.
The Walt Disney Company (China)
The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise with four business segments: consumer products, media networks, parks and resorts and studio entertainment. Entering China in 1930s, The Walt Disney Company (China) now has offices in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou and employs more than 100 cast members. With the September 12, 2005 opening of Hong Kong Disneyland, the company’s first theme park in China and 11th worldwide, all lines of business are now present in China. The Walt Disney Company is one of the most active and largest foreign entertainment companies in China today with a diversified business portfolio covering consumer products, publishing, mobile content, media networks, films and family entertainment programs. The Walt Disney Company is a Dow 30 company, with annual revenues exceeding $30 billion in its most recent fiscal year.