Phindile Mkhize performed “The Circle
of Life.” // © Disney
Last December, I had the opportunity to take in a special sneak preview of “Disney’s The Lion King” at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. It’d been years since I had first seen the show as a tween, but it was still as powerful and memorable as it was back then.
Settling into my seat at the Mandalay Bay Theatre, home to the Las Vegas production of “Mamma Mia!” for nearly six years (the show ended its run on Jan. 4), I had no idea what to expect. The stage was bare, with the exception of two sets of elaborate, hand-crafted masks from the show.
Soon enough, the music started playing and I heard the rallying cry of the “Circle of Life,” sung beautifully by Phindile Mkhize. And even though director and “Disney’s The Lion King” visionary Julie Taymor’s famous sets and props (minus those few masks) were nowhere to be seen, I could already picture the show in my head. And, I’m not alone.
// © Disney
“More than 50 million people have seen “Disney’s The Lion King” worldwide,” said Thomas Schumacher, “Disney’s The Lion King” producer and president of Disney Theatrical Group, after the event. “What you’re going to see here is the full Broadway production.”
When the show officially opens on May 15 (preview performances will begin on May 5), it will mark the end of a long, 10-year struggle to finally bring the show to Las Vegas.
“The timing just was never quite right, but now it is,” said Schumacher.
Shcumacher went on to say that, even though Las Vegas is not as family-oriented as it used to be, the production of “The Lion King” still resonates with all ages and will appeal to a wide audience of visitors to the city.
And to start the show off properly, Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino is hoping travel agents will encourage their clients to take in a performance while staying on the property. Agents are encouraged to negotiate group room rates at the resort; those who book 15 rooms or more at the hotel will receive a 10 percent commission.
Individual tickets for the show are already available, as are group tickets for groups of 15 or more. Ticket prices are $53, $86 and $113.50. VIP packages are also available, and include premium seating, a complimentary souvenir program and a complimentary merchandise item for $168.50. For group ticket sales, agents can contact Suzi Schnell, national sales manager for Mandalay Bay at email@example.com.