1997: ‘The Lion King’ Roars on Broadway
Based on the 1994 animated Disney film of the same name, The Lion King had its official opening on this day in 1997 at the New Amsterdam Theater on Broadway. The show features music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice. Directed by Julie Taymor, it is currently Broadway’s third longest-running show in history and the highest grossing Broadway production of all time. In September of 2014, The Lion King became the top-earning title in box-office history for both stage productions and films, surpassing the record previously held by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. It has earned six Tony Awards.
1940: ‘Fantasia’ Comes to Theaters
One of Walt Disney’s most ambitious projections, Fantasia was released in theaters during a 13-city “roadshow” of engagements beginning on this day in 1940. The studios’ third full-length animated movie featured eight segments set to different pieces of classical music conducted by famed composer, Leopold Stokowski and seven were performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra. Music critic, Deems Taylor, performed as the “master of ceremonies” during the film. During its initial run during World War II, the studio was unable to recoup its costs. Disney had wanted Fantasia to become an ongoing project where one or two segments would be swamped out for new ones for future releases of the film. That didn’t happen, but the film was re-released many more times in 1942, 1946, 1956, 1963, 1969, 1977, 1982, 1985 and 1990. Walt’s nephew, Roy E. Disney, co-produced Fantasia 2000 which began production in 1990. It contained all new segments (except for “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”) with new music performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and by conductor James Levine. The movie however did not come out to theaters until nine years later on December 17, 1999. In 2002, Disney talked about yet another version called Fantasia 2006, but those ideas were later dropped. “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” segment was adapted into its own live action 2010 movie and there have been talks of creating a live film based on “The Night on Bald Mountain” segment.
- 1850: Robert Louis Stevenson (author)
- 1934: Garry Marshall (film director)
- 1947: Joe Mantegna (actor)
- 1953: Frances Conroy (actress)
- 1955: Whoopi Goldberg (TV host)
- 1960: Neil Flynn (actor)
- 1967: Jimmy Kimmel (TV host)
- 1967: Steve Zahn (actor)
- 1969: Gerard Butler (actor)
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.