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THE LION KING (article first published : 2007-04-11)

One of the biggest, most ambitious musical shows of all time, The Lion King, is starting to take shape as preparations build towards its South African opening in May. Both the lavish set and production teams from around the world have arrived in South Africa and are working with local craftsmen and artisans to create this country’s (and the African continent’s) most ambitious theatrical project.

While elements of the production are being created and built in Pretoria, hundreds of builders and craftsmen are working around the clock to create a beautiful home for the show at the Teatro at Montecasino. Tsogo has invested more than R100 million in the theatre and it will be the most high tech and stunning venue of its kind anywhere in Africa.

The musical version of the animated Disney picture has drawn rave reviews for its dazzling special effects and staging and for the inspired music by Elton John, with lyrics by Tim Rice, and South Africa’s own Lebo M.

It won six Tony Awards in 1998 including the first ever best director to a female director, Julie Taymor. Taymor will travel to South Africa to stage The Lion King.

The Lion King broke new ground in theatrical technology when it bought to the stage the rolling African savannah. Far from shrinking from the challenge or toning down the scale of the film, Taymor succeeded in reproducing the film's vastness through ingenious staging techniques and experimental methods to take an appreciative audience on an adventure into another world.

South Africa will be the 10th country to host the production in the year that the show celebrates its 10th anniversary on Broadway. It is also the first The Lion King production in the world which will be entirely cast from the country it is playing in. The South African cast will be announced shortly.

The Lion King opens at the Teatro at Montecasino on May 22 and booking is open until September 9. Performance Tuesday to Saturday at 20h00 (Sundays at 18h30). Matinees take place on Wednesday and Friday at 14h00 (Sunday at 13h30). The show runs for two hours and 30 minutes. The show is recommended for children six years and up.

Tickets range from R150 to R425. Booking is open at Computicket or the Montecasino box office. For group bookings (20 tickets or more) call Geraldine on 011 511 1988 or e-mail geraldine@montetheatre.co.za

Disney's The Lion King in South Africa will be co-produced by Lebo M and Pieter Toerien with Bongani Tembe as associated producer. The South African production has been sponsored by Telkom in association with SABC, British Airways and Southern Sun.




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