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Mandarin ‘Lion King’ Opens Shanghai Disney Resort With a Roar

Disney hierarchy Bob Iger, Andy Bird and Bill Ernest were joined by stage and screen director Julie Taymor in Shanghai for the opening of the Mandarin-language version of “The Lion King” musical.

The executives were accompanied by Hollywood royalty in the form of animation ace John Lasseter, and top producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Chinese basketball giant Yao Ming and actor Sun Honglei for the first of several events in Shanghai ahead of Thursday’s formal opening on Shanghai Disney Resort. The park is Disney’s first in mainland China and the company’s largest theme park outside North America.

The red carpet event took place Tuesday at the purpose-built Walt Disney Grand Theater, in Disneytown, the small town-sized retail, dining and light entertainment complex on the edge of the park proper.

The formalities were left to Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. He reminded the preview audience that over 19 years the Broadway-style show had been seen in some 22 countries and by 85 million people, but that it had never previously been performed in Mandarin.

Taymor, who has been involved with the Lion King stage show from the beginning said that the new Chinese musical was already “one of the best ‘Lion King’ shows anywhere in the world.” She said that as part of an effort to make the show local and relevant to Chinese audience that she had added a mischievous monkey character. “It is the first time we have brought in a new character,” said Taymor. “And it is the year of the monkey after all.”

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