The Lion King Musical – A Perfect Return to Broadway in Chicago!

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Disney’s The Lion King has returned for its fifth time since 2003 to Broadway In Chicago. It is currently playing at the Cadillac Palace Theatre (151 W. Randolph St.) through January 14, 2023. 

Gugwana Dlamini as Rafiki ©Disney. Photo by Johan Persson

The North American touring productions of the 1998 Tony Award winning musical have been seen by more than 20 million theatergoers. After 24 landmark years on Broadway, The Lion King continues to be one of the umost popular stage musicals in the world. Since its premiere on November 13, 1997, 25 global productions have been seen by nearly 110 million people. 

Gerald Ramsey (Mufasa) ©Disney. Photo by Matthew Murphy

Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions (under the direction of Thomas Schumacher), The Lion King has made theatrical history with six productions worldwide running 15 or more years. Also performed over its lifetime in nine different languages (English, Japanese, German, Korean, French, Dutch, Spanish, Mandarin, and Portuguese), productions of The Lion King can currently be seen on Broadway; London’s West End; Paris; Hamburg; Tokyo; Madrid; on tour across North America, Japan and the U.K. & Ireland. 

The Lion King is one of my favorite musicals and I was very excited to have it return to Chicago! The story, music, lyrics and characters are all timeless. Everyone connects with it in more than one way.

Lionesses Dance ©Disney. Photo by Deen van Meer

The Cadillac Palace Theater for The Lion King was beautiful, but it felt a bit cramped for the grand scale performance. My guest and I felt that a larger theater and stage would have better suited the musical’s amazing staging, set design, choreography and performers. However, the show worked well with what it had been provided. 

Besides the rather tight staging quarters, the musical itself was a perfect experience. Even people who do not prefer musicals, or have never seen the film, will find themselves singing along and following the story. The story itself was very familiar, and allowed us to fully study and enjoy all the details of this magnificent show such as the creativity of the costumes, set, and special effects. This also allowed us to not feel like we were missing essential parts of the plot. 

Company of The Lion King on Broadway. Circle of Life. Photo by Matthew Murphy

Did I already mention that The Lion King was a perfect experience? A big part of that had to do with the amazing, talented cast of performers who brought the story to life. The cast also brought some fresh interpretations and character portrayals, while keeping faithful to the script. 

Darian Sanders as Simba ©Disney. Photo by Deen van Meer

Also, anyone who is familiar with The Lion King will enjoy the show’s sad, happy and humorous moments, especially impromptu and random moments coming from the audience. Perfect example: Do not forget that this is a kid friendly show, and kids always say the cutest things. When cubs, Nala and Simba, visited the elephant graveyard and smoke shot out of the ground, a little boy in front of us had to observe that “the stage farted!”

Other standouts of The Lion King were the beautiful costumes and contraptions designed for all the animal characters, including masks and puppetry, while utilizing humans to bring the character to life in a natural way. It was quite captivating how the actors moved to portray the animals and plants, such as the graceful walking of a cheetah, and humans on stilts walking like a giraffe. 

Circle of Life Cheetah and Giraffes. ©Disney. Photo by Joan Marcusn

One more factor that made The Lion King a spectacular performance and experience was that the actors themselves seemed to thoroughly enjoy being in the show. Seeing their enjoyment and passion for their roles, made us appreciate the musical that much more! 

Photos: ©Disney: Credits in photo captions.

For more information worldwide, please visit the Lion King website. For Broadway in Chicago tickets, visit their website. 


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