Just like Broadway in New York or the West End in London, Gran Vía is the place to go in Madrid if you want to experience a quality show. All throughout the year, the many theaters than line this main thoroughfare and surrounding areas offer award-winning musicals, some of which are Spanish productions, while others are franchises of international successes. Establishments such as Teatro Compac Gran Vía, Teatro Figaro, Teatro Apolo, Teatro Cofidis, Teatro Caser Calderón, and others have been providing excellent stage entertainment for years in the capital. Although there is a wide selection of shows on at any given time, by far the most popular at the moment is the international hit musical The Lion King.
The Lion King in Madrid. The Movie
The Lion King was originally released in movie theaters in the United States on June 15, 1994 (20 years ago this month!). The characters were voiced by an all-star cast including James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Matthew Broderick, Whoopi Goldberg and Cheech Marin. The Lion King was given two Academy Awards: one for Best Original Song for “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” by Elton John and Tim Rice, and another for Best Original Score, which was composed by Hans Zimmer. With a budget of forty-five million dollars, the film grossed $312,855,561 in its original format, later earning approximately 110 million dollars on its IMAX and 3D re-releases. As a result, The Lion King has become the highest-grossing hand-drawn film of all time, not to mention all the merchandise sold in relation to the movie.
From Broadway to Gran Vía
Only three-and-a-half years or so after its initial theatrical release, The Lion King musical debuted on Broadway on November 13, 1997 at the New Amsterdam Theatre. Virtually an immediate success, it won the Tony Award for Best Musical the following year. After close to seven thousand performances, it is currently the fourth-longest-running musical in Broadway history and has become the first musical ever to gross a billion dollars. Since its debut in New York, franchises have been set up all around the globe, first starting in the UK, then moving on to numerous cities including Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Toronto, Paris, Hamburg, Sydney, and Shanghai. It was in 2011 that The Lion King musical debuted in Madrid at Teatro Lope de Vega (Gran Vía, 57; <M> Callao/Plaza España [L3] or Santo Domingo [L2]). The current cast hails from all over the world and is made up of performers from Spain, Canada, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, the Philippines, Italy, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and even the US. To date, it is the only Spanish-language version of the show and has been seen by over one million spectators thus far.
Ever since its opening in Madrid, The Lion King has enjoyed immense popularity among spectators. Although most people who go to see the musical have already seen the movie, they are pleasantly surprised to see that, though the plot is familiar, the musical is fresh and new. The many actors, singers, and dancers seem to make the story come alive, and not only on stage, but all throughout the theater. Right from the opening piece, the story seems to engulf the audience and transport it to the very plains of the Serengeti. The costumes and set pieces are incredible and innovative, giving the actors a very animal-like vibe without betraying their human side; they seem to fuse into one, thus giving an incredibly convincing performance. What’s more, some humor elements from the movie have been adapted especially for the Spanish version of the musical, allowing for the audience to identify even more with the story.
Those who have yet to see The Lion King musical are certainly missing out. Although a closing date has not yet been announced, tickets can sometimes be difficult to get, so anyone wishing to see the show shouldn’t put it off. Take advantage of the fact that this award-winning international musical has come to town, purchase tickets, and be prepared to spend an evening like no other!