On Air Now
18 September 2014, 06:00
The biggest production ever to come to Sunderland's Empire Theatre opens tonight, as the Lion King debuts, ahead of its 7 week run on Wearside.
It's part of the show's record-breaking tour of the UK and Ireland, giving audiences the opportunity to experience the global phenomenon in their local theatre.
The production, which was four years in the making, brings together a cast of over 50 actors, singers and dancers, from 18 different countries, supported by a backstage team of over 100 people.
The touring production is the biggest musical production ever to tour the UK. With hundreds of masks, puppets and more than 700 elaborate costumes representing 26 different types of animal, 23 giant trucks are used to transport everything across the country.
In total, the touring production will visit 11 cities across the UK & Ireland over two and a half years, with further dates and locations to be announced.
Fiona Thomas, Vice President of Live Entertainment for The Walt Disney Company EMEA, said
"We are thrilled to be bringing Disney's THE LION KING to the magnificent Sunderland Empire.
We continue to be delighted by how much audiences enjoy THE LION KING in London and we look forward to sharing Julie Taymor's legendary production with audiences in Sunderland."
Disney's THE LION KING is based on the 1994 award-winning animated film.
It was first seen on Broadway in 1997, where it recently became the highest grossing show in Broadway history.
The production has now been seen by over 70 million people across six continents and the acclaimed West End production continues to sell out at London's Lyceum Theatre in its 15th triumphant year.
To date, this new touring production has enjoyed sell-out, record-breaking seasons in Bristol, Manchester, Dublin and Birmingham.
Ben Phillips, General Manager, Sunderland Empire, told Heart:
"We are delighted to host the North East premiere of Disney's THE LION KING for a spectacular seven week run and we are thrilled to have been chosen as one the venues for this UK Tour.
Customer feedback following the announcement has been phenomenal and this is a monumental opportunity for audiences across the region to witness this awe-inspiring production."