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THE LION KING (article first published : 2007-05-1)

One of the biggest, most ambitious musical shows of all time, The Lion King is on countdown to opening this month. Both the lavish set and production teams from around the world are in South Africa and 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. (Watch these pages for interview with Artistic Director Bryan Hill)

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. She will be in 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. (Watch these pages for details about the cast)

The Lion King affords corporate clients the ideal opportunity to host world-class corporate hospitality events for VIP clients and staff incentives. There are many options available to host corporate hospitality functions, ranging from small, intimate boardroom style venues for small groups, through to private areas in restaurants and The Montecasino Ballroom, a state of the art banquet facility which will host up to 700 guests standing for a cocktail function.

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

The Lion King opens at the Teatro at Montecasino on May 22 and booking is open until September 9. Performance times are Tuesdays to Saturdays at 20h00 and Sundays at 18h30. Matinees will be held on Wednesdays and Fridays at 14h00 and Sundays at 13h30. The show runs for two hours and 30 minutes and is recommended for children six years and up.

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




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