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'Lion King' coming to Wichita in fall of 2012

Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer spoke at a news conference Friday morning announcing that the hit Broadway musical "The Lion King" is coming to Wichita in the fall of 2012. (Feb. 4, 2011)
Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer spoke at a news conference Friday morning announcing that the hit Broadway musical "The Lion King" is coming to Wichita in the fall of 2012. (Feb. 4, 2011) The Wichita Eagle

The excitement of Friday's announcement that Theater League will bring Disney's "The Lion King" to Wichita was tempered a bit by two small details.

The show won't be here until fall 2012.

And tickets won't be on sale for a year.

Still, officials at Century II were excited enough about the announcement to call a news conference on the stage of the recently renovated Concert Hall, where a touring production of the Tony-winning musical will be staged during Theater League's 2012-13 season.

"I must say my grandchildren have already been talking to me saying we're planning on attending," said Mayor Carl Brewer during the announcement. "In fact, my youngest said, 'We're going twice.' "

Theater League, an organization that brings touring Broadway shows to Wichita and other cities, was responsible for 2009's run of "Wicked," a "Wizard of Oz"-based musical that stayed in Wichita for a three-week, 24-performance run. About 41,000 tickets were sold, generating $3 million in ticket revenue, Brewer said.

"Wicked's" success in Wichita helped persuade the "Lion King" tour that Wichita was a good risk, said Amy Hamm, senior marketing director for Theater League.

Also helping: A recent $2.3 million renovation of the Concert Hall that included new seats.

The seats in the center of the hall now are removable, said Angela Cato, marketing director for the Wichita Arts & Cultural Services division, and "The Lion King" requires a middle aisle for a parade that proceeds from the back of the auditorium at the beginning of the show.

Century II officials said that the economic impact of "The Lion King" is expected to be even greater than that of "Wicked."

The number of performances of "The Lion King" still has not been determined, though like "Wicked," it will be in Wichita for an extended run. Ticket prices and sale dates also were not released, though Hamm said she'd guess they'd be comparable to "Wicked's" ticket prices of $57 to $125 a head.

"The Lion King" is based on the 1994 Disney animated film of the same name with music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice.

At the news conference, Theater League also announced its 2011-12 season, which will include the hit Broadway musicals "Young Frankenstein" and "Mamma Mia!", which officials said is the musical most often requested by Theater League patrons.

"Young Frankenstein" is a Broadway musical based on the Mel Brooks movie of the same name. It will be performed at Century II Dec. 5-7.

"Mamma Mia!" is a musical based on the songs by the pop group ABBA. It will be presented on Feb. 7-9, 2012.

Other shows in the 2011-2012 season will be "Rock of Ages," which opens the season Nov. 8-10, and Blue Man Group, April 6-8, 2012.

"Rock of Ages" is a story set in 1987 on the Sunset Strip, where a small-town girl and a big-city rocker fall in love to the music of the 1980s.

Blue Man Group is billed as a theatrical experience that combines music, comedy and technology.

Theater League's 2010-11 season closes with "Spamalot" March 22-24 and "The Color Purple" April 26-28.

To buy season tickets to Theater League, go to www.theaterleague.com or call 800-776-7469.

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