Disney's 'The Lion King' Roaring into Academy of Music, August 16-September 10

BySteph Walton WPVI logo
Monday, August 7, 2023
Disney's 'The Lion King' Roaring into Academy of Music Aug.16-Sept. 10
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Broadway classic "The Lion King" is roaring into Philadelphia with all the spectacular wildlife and many of the songs from the film.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Disney's "The Lion King" has proved it "ain't no passing craze," marking over 25 years since it first hit Broadway.

Darian Sanders, who plays Simba, calls the show absolutely iconic.

"It still holds the record as the longest-running production," says Frances Egler, Vice President of Theatrical Programming and Presentations at the Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Center, Inc.


This fall, the Academy of Music will be transformed into the Pride Lands.

Khalifa White, in the role of Nala, invites audiences to Hakuna Matata and go on the journey with them.

"It's just a unique and incredible theatrical experience every time you see it," says Egler.

"The Lion King" won six Tony Awards in 1998 and has gone on to earn more than 70 major arts awards.

Deen Van Meer

Julie Taymor is behind the production and Elton John and Tim Rice worked on the famous score.

The story follows the journey of a young lion named Simba.

Sanders says Simba sees his dad and what it means to be king.

He has a loyal friend named Nala, but after an unexpected tragedy, Simba leaves home.

"And he goes off on a journey and tries to figure out and discover himself," says Sanders.

He adds that Simba is also trying to figure out the things that have happened to him.

White says, "it's a story about family," but also "the circle of life itself."

"It's a huge physical production," says Egler.

"We have African-inspired costuming and puppetry," says White.

Joan Marcus

And many cultures are celebrated.

Sanders says the dancing is coming from "this Balinese aspect," while at the same time the heritage of South Africa is infused in what they do.

"It's a beautiful thing," he says.

Classic fan-favorite songs from the film are included, such as "Circle of Life," and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?". The latter of the two setting the scene for Simba and Nala to reunite.

Sanders says that Nala helps Simba to realize and understand who he is, and to come back home and take his place as the rightful king.

"Just an epic experience," says Egler.

Disney's "The Lion King" runs August 16 through September 10 at the Academy of Music on the Kimmel Cultural Campus.

Disney's The Lion King | Tickets

Academy of Music

240 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102