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'The Lion King' celebrates 25th anniversary on Broadway

The musical opened in 1997.

Gillian Russo
Gillian Russo

Can you feel the love tonight? On November 13, The Lion King played its 25th-anniversary performance on Broadway. The musical is the third-longest-running Broadway show in history, behind The Phantom of the Opera and Chicago, having played nearly 9,800 performances.

Lyricist Tim Rice, director Julie Taymor, choreographer Garth Fagan, co-composer Lebo M, and bookwriters Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi were among the guests at the special performance at the Minskoff Theatre. Various actors who have played Young Nala and Young Simba, respectively, since 1997 reunited at the performance.

The Lion King played its first performance on October 15, 1997, officially opening on November 13. The following year, the musical took home six Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Choreography. The show also made Taymor the first woman to win Best Direction of a Musical; she also won for costume design.

As of the 25th-anniversary show, 16 original members of the Lion King staff are still with the show, including performer Lindiwe Dlamini, music director Karl Jurman, and seven orchestra members.

The Lion King also makes Fagan and Lebo M the Black choreographer and composer, respectively, with the longest-running Broadway show in history.

Composer Elton John and Rice are known for creating The Lion King's most famous songs, like "Circle of Life" and "I Just Can't Wait to Be King." Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi adapted the script from the 1994 animated film about a young lion cub who learns how to rule the African Pridelands with honor as his father once did.

Since the Broadway production launched, The Lion King has played in 24 countries on every continent except Antarctica, and in nine languages. There are currently nine productions running around the world in cities including London, Paris, Hamburg, Madrid, and Tokyo.

The current cast of the Broadway production includes L. Steven Taylor as Mufasa, Brandon A. McCall as Simba, Stephen Carlile as Scar, Cameron Pow as Zazu, Pearl Khwezi as Nala, Zinhle Dube as Rafiki, Ben Jeffrey as Pumbaa, and Fred Berman as Timon.

Get The Lion King tickets now.

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Photo credit: The cast of The Lion King at the 25th anniversary performance. (Photo by Chrystofer Davis)

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