‘King’ swings to Korea

Japanese 'Lion' starts perfs on Oct. 29

Japan’s Shiki Theatrical Company will present the first Korean-language production of Disney’s “The Lion King” in Seoul beginning Oct. 29.

The $24.2 million production will be the third Disney Theatrical Prods. musical to play in South Korea, following “Beauty and the Beast” in 2004 and “Aida” in 2005. It will also open the soon-to-be-completed 1,227-seat Charlotte Theater at Lotte World in Seoul, South Korea’s first dedicated musical venue.

Shiki, which has nine theaters in Japan, had planned to make its Korean debut in 2004, but it faced protests from local producers decrying a “Japanese cultural invasion.”

This year, however, with Korean pop culture booming in Japan, such arguments have lost much of their force.

In a press conference in Seoul on Wednesday, Shiki head Kieta Asari promised to reinvest all profits from the musical into actor training facilities and other Korean projects.

The production threatens to set off a round of price-cutting in the local musical sector. Premium seats for “King” will cost 90,000 won ($97), which is 25%-30% lower than the price charged for similar shows. The production is expected to run for a full year.

Since its debut on Broadway in 1997, “The Lion King” has earned $2.2 billion worldwide and been seen by close to 34 million people. The production next opens in Shanghai Grand Theater on July 18.

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