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Disney Theatrical Productions Announces Plans for 2007: on Broadway, on the Road, and Across the Globe

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NEW YORK, January 24 /PRNewswire/ --

    
                               THE LITTLE MERMAID
                     Begins Performances in Denver July 2007
              In Preparation for Broadway Premiere in December 2007


                                  MARY POPPINS
                Broadway's Newest Hit Opens to Critical Acclaim,
                     London Production Celebrates Third Year


                                   TARZAN (R)
                        Broadway's High-Flying Adventure
               Launches First International Production in Holland


     ELTON JOHN & TIM RICE'S                        THE LION KING
               AIDA                          Broadway Blockbuster Celebrates
        Show Enjoys Ongoing                 10th Anniversary with Productions
     Success With Productions                   in Johannesburg and Paris
                                                   in Germany & Japan


                              BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
                        Historic 13-year Run On Broadway
                                Coming To A Close

Following an historic 2006 marked by tremendous growth and unparalleled success on Broadway, in touring markets, and internationally, Disney Theatrical Productions (Thomas Schumacher, Producer, Disney Theatrical Productions) is preparing for a 2007 which promises exciting collaborations with some of theatre's most talented artists, the addition of THE LITTLE MERMAID to the canon of Disney Theatrical's titles, and an expanded slate of productions across the globe.

    
    (Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20070124/LAW035-b)
    (Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20070124/LAW035-a)

                              2006 AT A GLANCE ...

Thomas Schumacher, producer said, "2006 was a year of spectacular growth for Disney Theatricals with the world premiere of TARZAN(R) and the Broadway premiere of MARY POPPINS. In addition to these new productions, our long-running shows BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and THE LION KING saw continued success in New York and across the globe. We set some lofty goals in 2006, and I'm pleased to say upon reflection that we achieved them and more."

TARZAN(R) THRILLS BROADWAY AUDIENCES

Disney Theatrical Productions started 2006 with the world premiere of Broadway's high-flying adventure, TARZAN(R), one of the most artistically innovative shows to come to Broadway in recent memory. Featuring direction, set, and costume design by multi-Tony Award(R) winner Bob Crowley, and music by Academy Award(R) and multiple-GRAMMY(R) winner Phil Collins, TARZAN(R) has thrilled audiences since opening in May 2006. Heralded by Time Magazine as "sensational" and by The Financial Times as "the only show of the [2005-2006] season that places us joyously in a world of wonder," TARZAN(R) has proven to be a hit, having set the box office record at the Richard Rodgers Theatre an impressive five times in 2006. Audiences have responded enthusiastically with over 368,000 people having seen the show on Broadway to date.

MARY POPPINS BECOMES HIT OF FALL SEASON

Fall 2006 saw the Broadway premiere of MARY POPPINS, the most eagerly anticipated show of the season, which quickly proved to be a hit with audience members and critics alike. The Broadway production was heralded by New York critics as, "a roof-raising, toe-tapping, high-flying extravaganza" (The Daily News) and led one critic to exclaim, "I loved the movie, but I have to confess I love the Broadway musical even more" (WABC-TV). MARY POPPINS, produced in partnership with Cameron Mackintosh, has become the biggest hit to open during the 2006-2007 season and is the must-see new musical for theatregoers of all ages. The London production continues its record-setting run as it enters its third year at the Prince Edward Theatre in the West End.

THE LION KING CONTINUES GLOBAL SUCCESS

THE LION KING is Broadway's most popular destination for theatergoers, having set new box office records six times in 2006, positioning it to become the longest running show in the Minskoff Theatre's history. On the road, THE LION KING's two national touring productions have experienced unprecedented success in cities across the country including a recent triumphant return engagement to Los Angeles' Pantages Theatre.

Internationally, THE LION KING celebrated continued success as an English-language production made its premiere in Shanghai, China. The limited engagement marked an historic event for THE LION KING, having played 100 performances at Shanghai's Grand Theatre. In addition, THE LION KING had record-setting runs in Amsterdam and Australia: the Amsterdam production was seen by almost 2 million guests during its two-year run, while the Australian production celebrated 1,000 performances and over 2.2 million guests during its stops in Sydney and Melbourne. THE LION KING has become a global phenomenon with a total of seven productions currently running worldwide: New York, London, Hamburg, Tokyo, Seoul, and two U.S. national tours.

    
                           LOOKING FORWARD TO 2007 ...

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST'S HISTORIC RUN COMING TO AN END

After enchanting audiences for more than 13 years, Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, the inaugural Broadway musical from Disney Theatrical Productions, will take its final bow at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on Sunday, July 29. The production will have played 46 previews and 5,464 regular performances.

Schumacher said, "For many theatergoers, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST has been their first introduction to the magic of Broadway musicals, and we're glad to have another six months to allow even more people to see the show before it must end. That's a wonderful legacy for all of us at Disney Theatrical, and we're so proud of the show's record-breaking run on Broadway, throughout the country, and around the world. Though the Broadway production is coming to a close this summer, through our relationship with Music Theatre International (MTI), BEAUTY AND THE BEAST will continue to live on in regional and high school productions around the world."

Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is the longest-running American musical currently on Broadway and the sixth longest running show of all time. The production has logged more performances than other landmark shows like Miss Saigon; 42nd Street; Fiddler on the Roof; and Hello, Dolly! Around the world, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST has played in a total of 13 countries and 115 cities, making it one of the most successful musicals of all time alongside such titles as Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, and Les Miserables.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST originally opened at the Palace Theatre in 1994 and played there for the first five years of its run. The show subsequently reopened at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in 1999. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is the longest running production in the history of both the Palace Theatre and the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST has celebrated record-breaking box office runs in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Spain and the United Kingdom. In 1999, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST became the first Broadway musical to be performed in Beijing, China in Chinese. The show has been translated into six languages: Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, German, Portuguese and Korean.

WORKING WITH ARTISTS FROM BROADWAY AND BEYOND

Led by director Francesca Zambello, some of the theater's most innovative artists will gather this summer in Denver to create THE LITTLE MERMAID, based on the beloved Disney film and the classic fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. Casting is nearly complete with rehearsals set to begin May 2007. Then, beginning Thursday, July 26, 2007, the process continues with seven weeks of previews and performances at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Following Denver, the team moves back to New York where Broadway previews are set to begin Saturday, November 3, 2007 ahead of a planned Thursday, December 6, 2007 opening at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

Schumacher said, "What excites me most about developing new projects is taking people who have never worked on Broadway such as Elton John, Julie Taymor, Phil Collins, and now Francesca Zambello and giving them an opportunity to create new work alongside theatre's most talented artists such as Alan Menken, Bob Crowley, Tim Rice, and Richard Eyre."

With a score composed by eight-time Academy Award(R) winner Alan Menken and his frequent collaborator, the legendary Howard Ashman, THE LITTLE MERMAID will feature the classic songs "Part of Your World," "Kiss the Girl" and the Academy Award(R) -winning Best Original Song, "Under the Sea," as well as 11 new songs by Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater. The book for the new musical is by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award(R) -winning playwright Doug Wright. Disney's THE LITTLE MERMAID will come to life thanks to Menken, Slater, Wright, Zambello and a visionary team of artists including Olivier Award winner Stephen Mear (choreography), George Tsypin (scenic design), Tatiana Noginova (costume design) and Tony Award(R) winner Natasha Katz (lighting design).

Dick Cook, Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, said, "THE LITTLE MERMAID will be the perfect addition to our Broadway division, and it's a fantastic opportunity for entirely new audiences to experience the magic of this beautiful story and these timeless songs. Of course, everyone will ask 'How will they do that?' and I can promise you that this new production won't disappoint. It's been a fantastic journey to watch the Broadway division grow, mature and take enormous risks, and we are very proud that Disney has four musicals on Broadway, more than any other single producer on Broadway today."

Composer Alan Menken said, "BEAUTY AND THE BEAST has meant so much to me, both in remembering the joy of creating the animated film and seeing how audiences have embraced it on Broadway for all of these years. I have had the pleasure of watching so many diverse and talented performers sing these roles in the past 13 years. While it saddens me to say goodbye to BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, I am excited to watch THE LITTLE MERMAID take shape as a Broadway musical, and to be a part of its exciting journey to the stage."

Schumacher said, "It's extraordinary that our team will have brought three unique new productions to Broadway in three successive seasons: TARZAN(R), MARY POPPINS, and THE LITTLE MERMAID. We've been working on these projects for many years, some for over a decade, and each has been nurtured at a different pace. The stars aligned and all three of them will have come to Broadway by the end of 2007."

EXPANDING GLOBAL SUCCESS

Disney's award winning musical, THE LION KING is celebrating its 10th anniversary on Broadway with an historic Johannesburg, South Africa production to launch in June 2007. The production will feature a local South African cast, many of whom have been in other productions of THE LION KING around the world and are now coming home to perform in their native country. To date, THE LION KING has employed almost 100 native South Africans in its productions worldwide. THE LION KING will perform in the Montecasino Theatre in northern Johannesburg, which is being built for this production. In October 2007, a French-language production of THE LION KING will premiere in Paris, marking the 11th country the show will have played during its first decade. On the road in 2007, THE LION KING will premiere in Appleton, Austin, Ft. Myers and Jacksonville, and play return engagements in Ft. Lauderdale, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Louisville, Charlotte, Dallas, Memphis, and St. Petersburg.

Disney's first international production of TARZAN(R) is currently in rehearsals and will open April 15, 2007 at the Circustheatre near Amsterdam. The production is a continuation of a long-standing partnership between Disney Theatrical Productions and Stage Entertainment, the collaboration that has mounted six Disney musicals in Europe, grossing over US$400 million in ticket sales.

Elton John & Tim Rice's AIDA continues its success globally with productions currently running in Fukuoka, Japan and a national tour continuing through Germany. These productions join AIDA's past productions including a triumphant four-and-a-half year run on Broadway, a 53-city U.S. national tour, a two-year Dutch language production, and a year-long run in Seoul.

CULTIVATING THE NEXT GENERATION OF THEATREGOERS

Disney Theatricals also continues its unparalleled success in the nation's schools and amateur theatrical groups through its relationship with Musical Theatre International (MTI). In fall 2006, MTI introduced a version of the wildly popular Disney Channel movie HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL. The MTI version of HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL is one of the most popular titles in MTI's history, receiving an unprecedented number of license requests since the show became available. HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL joined BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, Elton John and Tim Rice's AIDA, and other Disney Collection titles which have been top performers for MTI since the relationship with Disney Theatricals was launched in 2003.

Schumacher said, "I'm thrilled with the Disney titles available through MTI. Developed through a unique collaboration with Disney Theatricals, MTI's Musicals from the Disney Collection also includes musicals developed especially for students. Aladdin Junior is a 60-minute show appropriate for middle-schoolers to perform. Cinderella Kids, 101 Dalmations Kids, and The Jungle Book Kids are 30-minute stage versions of classic Disney films aimed to introduce elementary school children to the joys of putting on a musical and introducing them to the thrill of live theatre in their own community."

For more information on Disney Theatrical Productions on Broadway and around the world, visit www.DisneyOnBroadway.com.

Tickets to BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, THE LION KING, TARZAN(R), and MARY POPPINS can be obtained the following three easy ways:

    
    - Online at www.disneyonbroadway.com,
    - Ticketmaster at +1-212-307-4747 or www.ticketmaster.com
    - In person at the respective Broadway theatre box offices.

Ticketing and additional details for THE LITTLE MERMAID will be announced at a later date.

The original cast recordings of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, THE LION KING (RIAA certified Platinum), AIDA, TARZAN(R), and MARY POPPINS are available on Walt Disney Records at retailers nationwide.

(C) 2006 Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., and Disney Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.

TARZAN(R) owned by Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. and used by permission.

    
                          DISNEY THEATRICAL PRODUCTIONS
                                 2007 KEY DATES

    Sunday, April 15           TARZAN(R) opens first international production
                               in Amsterdam.

    Thursday, May 10           TARZAN(R) celebrates first anniversary on
                               Broadway.

    Wednesday, June 6          THE LION KING opens in Johannesburg, South
                               Africa.

    Thursday, July 26          THE LITTLE MERMAID begins pre-Broadway
                               engagement in Denver.

    Sunday, July 29            BEAUTY AND THE BEAST to play final performance
                               at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

    Thursday, October 4        THE LION KING opens in Paris.

    Saturday, November 3       THE LITTLE MERMAID begins previews at the 
                               Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

    Tuesday, November 13       THE LION KING celebrates 10th anniversary on
                               Broadway.

    Friday, November 16        MARY POPPINS celebrates first anniversary on
                               Broadway.

    Thursday, December 6       THE LITTLE MERMAID opens on Broadway.

(C) 2006 Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., and Disney Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.

TARZAN(R) owned by Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. and used by permission.

Website: http://www.DisneyOnBroadway.com

SOURCE Disney Theatrical Productions



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