Keeper of the Plans

Theater event of the year: ‘The Lion King’ is coming back to Wichita

“The Lion King” 2020.

Mark your calendars now, because that’s what’s in store for Century II in a year’s time.

The mega-popular Broadway stage musical, Disney’s “The Lion King,” is returning to Wichita as part of Broadway in Wichita’s 2020-21 season, the American Theatre Guild announced recently.

The Kansas City-based guild, previously known as Theater League, annually brings a slate of touring Broadway productions to Century II.

“The Lion King” will play at Century II’s Concert Hall for “an extended engagement” in the fall of 2020 — no official dates have yet been released.

The performers coming to Wichita this time will be different than in 2012, as the show got an all-new company — the Rafiki National Tour — in 2017.

Subscribers to Broadway in Wichita’s 2019-20 season who renew for 2020-21 will get first access to “The Lion King” tickets. Season tickets start at $120 and can be purchased at or by phone at 316-303-8100.

When the show came to Century II for a four-week run in 2012, it became the highest-grossing theatrical production in Wichita history, grossing $4.3 million in ticket sales alone.

In 2012 the show was estimated to have brought $15 million into the Wichita economy.

“The Lion King” is Broadway’s third longest-running show in history, where it’s been playing ever since its premiere in 1997. The only shows that have run longer are “The Phantom of the Opera” (since 1988) and “Chicago” (since 1996).

It’s also the highest-grossing show in Broadway history, generating more than $1 billion in New York ticket sales.

Century II’s Concert Hall underwent a $2.3 million renovation in 2010 partially to accommodate “The Lion King,” which is a mammoth-sized production.

Booking “The Lion King” in Wichita is a coup for the Kansas City-based American Theatre Guild — which last brought a blockbuster musical production (“Wicked”) to Wichita in 2016.

Until “The Lion King” roars back into town, the American Theatre Guild is bringing four shows to Wichita soon, as part of its 2019-20 season.

Those shows include:

  • “Cats,” Oct. 14-16
  • “Bandstand,” Jan. 14-16, 2020
  • “Waitress,” March 3-5, 2020
  • “The SpongeBob Musical,” April 28-30, 2020

Theater benefits Wichita

The five shows that comprised Broadway in Wichita’s 2018-19 season brought an estimated $4.5 million into the local economy, the company recently announced.

Those shows included “Finding Neverland,” “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘Cinderella,’” “Jersey Boys,” “Evita,” and “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.”

The $4.5 million figure comes from a Touring Broadway League report which found that, on average, Broadway tours contribute an economic impact of 3.27 times gross ticket sales into the local economy.

By that logic, the shows in Broadway in Wichita’s 2018-19 season grossed roughly $1.38 million total.

Matt Riedl covers arts and entertainment news for the Wichita Eagle and has done so since 2015. He maintains the Keeper of the Plans blog on Facebook, dedicated to keeping Wichitans abreast of all things fun.