Circus roars back at anni

'Lion King' perf highlight Holland venue celebration

Scheveningen -Stage topper and billionaire media mogul Joop van den Ende threw a gala bash last week to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Fortis Circustheater in the seaside resort of Scheveningen.

It was the same venue, just down the road from government seat The Hague, for which Van den Ende had shelled out one guilder ($.45) in 1991. “At that time, they told me you couldn’t build a theater culture in a small country like Holland,” Van den Ende told Variety.

Famous last words and apparently fighting ones for the media exec, who also co-founded TV prodco Endemol. Some 12% of the 16.3 million people in Holland now attend a musical annually — mostly his.

In its time the Circus drew everone from P.T Barnum to Cirque de Soleil but Jan. 12 some 1,500 of the creme de la creme of Dutch stage and TV ogled, among other performances, a premiere outing of “The Lion King” by an international cast flown in for the fete.

Dinner bash later had South African born Beular Makhetha, now starring as Rafiki in Stage Holding’s Hamburg “Lion,” rubbing elbows with Van den Ende while top Dutch TV presenter Ivo Nihe traded pointers with him.

Meanwhile, Dutch musical star Tony Naif and Sophia Wezer just couldn’t get enough of — what else at a seaside Dutch bash — pickled herring.