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June 4

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June 4, 2006 – The Musical The Lion King Closes at the New Amsterdam Theatre

“Till we find our place on the path unwinding, in the circle, the circle of life.”

On June 4, 2006, the Broadway musical The Lion King held its final performance at the New Amsterdam Theater in New York City. The show had been at the theatre since October 10, 1997, and was lauded for its imaginative interpretation of the animated feature film source. The production, fortunately, was not closed permanently; the show was to be transferred to the Minskoff Theatre, while the production of Mary Poppins would be taking its place at the New Amsterdam. The Minskoff Theatre underwent some custom renovations to accommodate the incoming production, and the show opened in the theatre on June 13th. As of 2019, the Minskoff Theatre is still home to The Lion King.

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January 17

January 17, 2003 – The Stage Show Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular Officially Debuts in Disney California Adventure

“Must I yearn forever to be free?”

On January 17, 2003, the Broadway-style stage show Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular made its officially debut on January 17, 2003, at Disney California Adventure’s Hyperion Theater. Based on the hit 1992 animated feature film Aladdin, this stage show would become a precursor to the hit Broadway musical. The show generally follows the plot of the film; however, composer Alan Menken added one new song for the show: “To Be Free,” a song for Jasmine. “To Be Free” is a reworked song that was originally created as a ballad for Genie, but was inevitably cut from the film. The show ended its run on January 10, 2016, and was replaced by Frozen – Live at the Hyperion.

December 1

December 1, 2012 – The Lion King Pop-Up Exhibit Opens in New York City

“This new interactive attraction gives visitors a unique chance to extend their Broadway experience outside the theater, creating longer-lasting memories of this iconic show.” – First Vice President of Communications for NYC & Company, Christopher C. Heywood

On December 1, 2012, Disney Theatrical Group opened a special immersive “pop-up” exhibition to celebrate the Broadway smash production of The Lion King, known as “Inside the Lion King.” Considered the first of its kind, the exhibit gave travelers a chance to see over 100 items relevant to the creation of the show, ranging from shadow puppets to props, with the ability to see details that aren’t readily noticed from the theater seats. The exhibit also includes interactive elements, such as touch screen presentations of concept sketches and models, and photograph opportunities with set pieces.

November 16

November 16, 2003 – Toni Braxton Holds Final Performance in Aida

“So, I was taking a little bit of a risk, but I came here to New York and I say [Aida] and I was like: ‘Oh, God! It’s so beautiful! I’m so glad I said yes!’” – Toni Braxton

On November 16, 2003, R&B singer and songwriter Toni Braxton gave her final performance as the titular character in the Broadway musical Aida. This was the second time Braxton took the lead role in a Disney musical, with the first being a stint as Belle in Beauty and the Beast. Her engagement in the show began on June 30, and she was replaced by Destiny’s Child member Michelle Williams.

November 10

November 10, 2016 – Frozen: A Musical Spectacular Kicks Off on Disney Cruise Line

“You’ll go home wishing you had a happy snowman as your best friend.”

On November 10, 2016, the live-action stage show Frozen: A Musical Spectacular began performances on the Disney Cruise Line ship the Disney Wonder. Adapted from the hit animated feature Frozen, the stage show was a Broadway-caliber production that featured most of the songs from the film, as well as dynamic puppetry, special effects, and transformative scenery. This production fed into the idea that Frozen would work as a Broadway musical; however, as of 2018, this production is still running on the Disney Wonder.

October 24

October 24, 2006 – The Musical Sister Act Opens in California’s Pasadena Playhouse

“Masquerading as a nun named Mary Clarence, this Sister’s act will have you laughing and singing in the aisles.”

On October 24, 2006, the musical Sister Act began previews at the Pasadena Playhouse in California. It was based on the 1992 musical comedy film that was released by Touchstone Pictures, which is owned by Walt Disney Studios. The stage production featured original songs by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, along with the book provided by Cheri and Bill Steinkellner. The California cast included Dawnn Lewis as Deloris Van Cartier, Elizabeth Ward as Mother Superior, David Jennings as Eddie, Amy K. Murray as Sister Mary Patrick, Beth Malone as Sister Mary Robert, and Audrie Neenan as Sister Mary Lazarus. The California production closed on December 23, 2006; it would go on to open in the West End on June 2, 2009.

October 4

October 4, 2007 – The French Production of The Lion King Premieres at the Theatre Mogador

“The cast is wonderful to look at and gorgeous to listen to. I find them very compelling.” – Disney Theatrical Productions President Thomas Schumacher

On October 4, 2007, the first French production of the popular Broadway musical The Lion King, known as Le Roi Lion, opened at the newly renovated Theatre Mogador in Paris. The musical was performed completely in French, and was translated from English by Stéphane Laporte, a Molière Award winning writer. The French case included Zama Magudulela as Rafiki, Jee-L as Mufasa, Olivier Breiman as Scar, Jérémy Fontanet as Simba, Léah Vincent as Nala, David Eguren as Zazu, Christian Abart as Timon, and Fabrice de la Villehervé as Pumbaa. Several key members involved with the original Broadway production were in the audience, including original director and designer Julie Taymor, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger, and President of Disney Theatrical Productions Thomas Schumacher.