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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, December 14, 2006

'The Lion King' signs on for 3-month run at Blaisdell in fall

By Rod Ohira
Advertiser Staff Writer

Spokane, Wash.-based promoter Jack Lucas will be bringing Disney's award-winning Broadway production "The Lion King" to Blaisdell Concert Hall next fall, a city official said.

Sidney A. Quintal, director of the Department of Enterprise Services which manages the Blaisdell complex, yesterday confirmed the concert hall is reserved from Sept. 9 through Dec. 10 for "The Lion King" and that he has signed a contract to have the production here.

"I think it's a wonderful opportunity to expose the greater population of the state to a national venue that has received rave reviews that most individuals in Hawai'i would not normally see," Quintal said.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann, Lucas and Disney representatives plan to make an official announcement in January.

Lucas arrived in Honolulu late Tuesday and met yesterday with interested parties, such as the Honolulu Symphony and Hawaii Opera Theatre, on organizing group-ticket sale plans for the production, said Quintal. Lucas could not be reached for comment.

Enterprise Services' events manager John Fuhrmann met with several promoters who were interested in bringing "The Lion King" to Honolulu before selecting Lucas, according to Quintal.

"He is a very reputable person who is certainly not in business of disrupting seasons and is continuing to work hard with the symphony to eliminate ill will," Quintal said, referring to the concert hall not being available to the Honolulu Symphony for half of its 2007-2008 season because of the production.

Quintal estimated "The Lion King" production will be worth $30 million to the local economy. The city will receive revenue from renting the concert hall, a percentage of ticket sales, concessions and parking, said Quintal.

The concert hall will undergo major interior renovations to accommodate "The Lion King," which is being paid for by the promotion, said Quintal.

Fuhrmann said Lucas plans to use four 747s to fly in the production's sets in early September at a cost of more than $1 million.

Tickets for "The Lion King" are expected to go on sale after the January announcement, Fuhrmann said. He did not know which of the several Disney national touring companies Lucas is bringing here.

Plans call for evening performances Tuesdays through Sundays and matinees Saturdays and Sundays, said Fuhrmann.

"This show has drawn a wider and broader fan base than 'Phantom of the Opera' on national tours wherever it has played," Fuhrmann said, "so we're very excited about the opportunity to have it here."

The musical runs 2 hours, 45 minutes with intermission, and features Elton John and Tim Rice's Oscar-winning song "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," along with "The Circle of Life," and "Hakuna Matata."

The show, with a cast of more than 40, has earned many major awards, including six Tonys in 1998.

Reach Rod Ohira at rohira@honoluluadvertiser.com.