Lion King on Broadway

by umer | 4:28 AM in , |

Lion King on Broadway

Lion King on Broadway_"The Lion King" is officially Broadway's all-time highest grossing show.

Box-office figures released Monday show that "The Lion King" last week swiped the title from "The Phantom of the Opera" grossing more than $850 million.

"The Lion King" surged past "Phantom" after netting more than $2 million at the box office for the week ending Sunday, bringing its total to $853,846,062.

What makes the achievement all the more remarkable is that "The Lion King" chased down and grabbed the title despite "Phantom" having almost a full 10 years' head start. The Disney show opened in November 1997, while "Phantom" debuted in January 1988. The upstart's victory is due in large part to its higher average ticket prices and a slightly larger theater.

"It doesn't surprise me," said Cary Ginell, a music historian and biographer who edited the seventh edition of "Broadway Musicals: Show By Show." He compares "The Lion King" to a Disneyland ride.

"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. For the kids, it's the visual elements -- the colors, the costumes and the puppetry. For the adults, it's 'Hamlet,' basically. And the music is not geared to one age or gender or race. It's as universal a show can get."

Disney Theatrical Productions was gracious when contacted about reaching the milestone, saluting "Phantom" songwriter Andrew Lloyd Webber and "Phantom" producer Cameron Mackintosh, who also co-produced Disney's hit "Mary Poppins," and calling its own show "a global phenomenon of historic proportions."

Thomas Schumacher, producer and president of Disney Theatrical Productions, also gave credit to Julie Taymor, the director, costume and mask maker of "The Lion King." ''Her vision, continued commitment to the show and uncommon artistry account for this extraordinary success," he said in a statement.

"This accomplishment belongs to our audiences, millions of whom are experiencing their first Broadway show at 'The Lion King,'" Schumacher added. "Surely, introducing so many to the splendor of live theater is our show's greatest legacy."