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Lion King Stage Show To Open In Shanghai

The Walt Disney Co. announced its award-winning musical THE LION KING will open at Shanghais Grand Theatre on July 18, 2006, and play for 100 performances.

The engagement will be presented by The Shanghai Grand Theatre in association with The Walt Disney Co., 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 more than 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 Thomas Schumacher, president, Disney Theatrical Prods. 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 Co. 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 Disneys 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, president, Shanghai Grand Theatre.

We are extremely honored to partner with the Shanghai Grand Theatre to bring to China our most cherished Broadway show, said Stanley Cheung, md, The Walt Disney Co. China is a priority for the entire company and this announcement further demonstrates Disneys commitment to this country as part of our international growth strategy. 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.

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 eight 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 stage musical 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 Rices 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.

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Rick DeMott
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