It is unlikely that the producers of the first international touring production of The Lion King thought they would be facing off against a rival production this month in Taipei, but that is what is happening.
Director Jon Favreau’s technology-driven live-action remake of Disney’s animated 1994 hit opened in movie theaters in the capital and around the nation on Wednesday. Not only are movie tickets much, much cheaper, but the star-studded film cast includes some very famous voices, such as Beyonce’s.
The good news for the touring show, which Kuang Hong Arts Management (KHAM) has brought back to the Taipei Arena 11 years after an earlier version packed one of the capital’s biggest venues for three weeks, is that the initial reviews of Favreau’s remake have been pretty ho-hum.
The live show, the 25th global production, but first “international” one, premiered in Manila in March last year, followed by runs in Singapore and three South Korean cities, and is now in Taipei for 19 performances.
Most of the leads and ensemble members are South African, with some British and Filipinos in the mix, as well as Tainan-born dancer Wu Tzu-jung (吳姿蓉).
Director Julie Taynor’s costumes, and the mask and puppets she codesigned, are as amazing as ever, as is the music, which includes the Elton John-Tim Rice songs made famous by the 1994 movie, such as Circle of Life and Hakuna Matata, plus others by South African composer Lebo Morake, as well as contributions by Hans Zimmer, Mark Mancina and Jay Rifkin.
There are more than 230 masks and puppets in the show to portray 25 kinds of creatures, ranging from body-suit puppets or masks of lions, birds, fish and insects, to an elephant that is operated by four actors.
The show is performed in English, with Chinese surtitles.
■ Tomorrow through Aug. 4 at the Taipei Arena (台北小巨蛋), 2, Nanjing E Rd Sec 4, Taipei City (台北市南京東路四段2號), with evening performances Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7:30pm, matinees on July 27 and Aug. 3 at 2:30pm, and Sunday shows at 1pm and 6pm.
■ Remaining tickets range from NT$3,800 to NT$6,600, available through Kuang Hong Arts Management’s Web site, www.kham.com.tw, OK Mart convenience store ticket kiosks or by calling (07) 780-7071, Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 5:30pm, or faxing (07) 780-5353. The premiere is sold out as is the matinee on Saturday next week. More seats are available during the second week of the run than for next week’s shows.
With his sugarcane juice stall at Monga Nightmarket (艋舺夜市) floundering due to COVID-19, things took a turn for the worse for Lin Chih-hang (林志航) when he was furloughed from a part-time job. The crowds are trickling back to this nightmarket in Taipei’s Wanhua District (萬華), but Lin is now so busy that he has hired a friend to run his stall. As the sole driver of the night market’s delivery service, established on April 12, Lin takes on an average of 20 orders on weeknights and over 60 on weekends, with his father helping out when he is too busy.
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