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PostHeaderIcon Lion King coming to Providence Performing Arts Center Feb 01

Lion King returns to Providence Performing Arts Center next week. Lion King show will be in town till Sunday, 20 February, 2011.

And if Providence is anything like the rest of the country, the show will do very well. For, almost 14 years after “The Lion King” opened on Broadway, it’s still breaking box office records, said Tom Schumacher, head of Disney Theatrical Productions.

“It’s crazy,” said Schumacher, “but it speaks to the power of the show.”

Actually, Schumacher has been involved with “Lion King” in some capacity for the past 20 years. He got involved with the development of the 1994 film back in 1990, when the project was known as “King of the Beasts.” The animated film was, of course, a huge success, which paved the way for a musical that to its credit did not look like a cartoon brought to the stage. That was largely due to the vision of director Julie Taymor, who felt, as Schumacher said, that the film should “be inherently filmic, and the musical should be inherently theatrical.”

And there is no more exciting 15 minutes in theater than when the “animals” in the show come parading down the aisles of the theater.

“She never hides the actor,” said Schumacher of Taymor. “This is a story about animals, but it’s really about us.”

Those who have seen the show know that the big idea behind it is the notion of the “circle of life.” The musical opens with the birth of Simba, the lion cub who is destined to rule Pride Rock. We watch him develop through tough times, and grow to an adult, when he and Nala have their own son.

“It’s an event,” said Schumacher. “It’s cathartic.”

Another big plus for the show is the catchy score that mixes pop ballads from Elton John with the pulsing choral numbers of South African composer Lebo M.

Even though it is based on a popular kids’ movie, the musical is not for small fry, said Schumacher. The show’s too long, and too sophisticated for a 5-year-old, he said, but 8 or 9 is fine. And for them “Lion King” provides some memories.

“The Lion King” opens Tuesday, February 01 and runs through Sunday, February 20 at the Providence Performing Arts Center, 220 Weybosset St., Providence.

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