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Book Review: "The Lion King (Celebrating The Lion King's 20th Anniversary on Broadway): Twenty Years on Broadway and Around the World"

Hi everyone!

We received The Lion King (Celebrating The Lion King's 20th Anniversary on Broadway): Twenty Years on Broadway and Around the World to review. The Lion King on Broadway celebrated 20 years in 2017, and is  Broadway's highest earning production of all time - at over 1 billion dollars. The book itself has been out for just over a month, I also reviewed The Lion King: Pride Rock on Broadway today that celebrates this longtime beloved Broadway show.

The Lion King (Celebrating The Lion King's 20th Anniversary on Broadway): Twenty Years on Broadway and Around the World

The Lion King (Celebrating The Lion King's 20th Anniversary on Broadway): Twenty Years on Broadway and Around the World is a nicely sized book, one that would easily fit in with coffee table books. The welcome pages of the book talk about how the show faced adversity before opening at the New Amsterdam Theatre on November 13th, 1997. It also talks about the growth of the show in the twenty years since opening.

The next few pages are "A Word From the Producer". Thomas Schumacher talks about why The Lion King works, including how without "goddess of the theater", director Julie Taymor, there would be no Broadway version. He invokes the words of Walt Disney how you can "design and create the most wonderful things in the world, but it takes people to make the dream a reality". And that is what these few pages are about.

There are three sections then to the book. The first is "The Birth of a King", which starts with the film and how it came about. It also includes a timeline for The Lion King, both the film and the show (and more animation as well). It discusses how nobody wanted to work on The Lion King. The big movie Disney was courting at that time was Pocahontas. The Lion King (then with a different name) wasn't really expected to do much.

The book continues with the challenges with the movie version - including trying to secure Elton John - and quickly moves to the theatrical version and really talks a lot about Julie Taymor and her vision for the show. There are concept art drawings of costumes, masks and puppets. The book is photo heavy, with pictures from before the show opened. Once the next section begins, "From Broadway to America", there are even more photos and those are mostly of the finished production itself. It talks about the opening of the show, including press praise. There are paragraphs about the songs with large photos accompanying them.

There is a lot more within the 223 pages of the book, including paragraphs on The Lion King show in various cities outside of the United States, starting with Toronto, Canada as the first location. Hamburg, Germany was next and is still in production there - and it talks a little about the challenges at that time. Shanghai Disney's version is also included, through it ended its run after just over one year - the Shanghai pages are interesting, a little longer than some of the other city/country excerpts. It was interesting to learn that in China, finding actors who could dance and sing as well was harder because Western theater isn't really a thing so much there.

I haven't yet seen The Lion King on Broadway, but it was really fun to read through the book and learn about the history. The abundance of photos is a nice bonus as well. I do recommend The Lion King (Celebrating The Lion King's 20th Anniversary on Broadway): Twenty Years on Broadway and Around the World to anyone who has an interest in the subject.

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