The Lion King brings 90,000 people to Sunderland Empire

Ben Phillips, manager of the Sunderland Empire with cast members of The Lion King, Hope Maine and Thulisle Thusi alongside the prestigious award that's now on show in the foyer.
Ben Phillips, manager of the Sunderland Empire with cast members of The Lion King, Hope Maine and Thulisle Thusi alongside the prestigious award that's now on show in the foyer.
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THE Lion King has proved to be a roaring success, becoming the fastest-selling show of all time at Sunderland Empire.

In the past seven weeks, 90 000 people have flocked to the High Street West venue to experience the sights and sounds of the Disney spectacle.

To mark the show’s mammoth run, which draws to a close this weekend, the Empire has been presented with a lioness mask from the show.

The mask, designed by the show’s Tony award-winning director, Julie Taymor, will be on permanent display in the theatre foyer.

Audience members came from as far afield as Northern Ireland and Plymouth to see the musical in Sunderland, one of the biggest to be performed in the city.

Ben Phillips, general manager of the Sunderland Empire, said: “The spectacular seven-week run of this award-winning musical has been a phenomenal experience for, not only our audiences, but for the city of Sunderland as well.

“Feedback has been sensational and we are thrilled to have hosted this awe-inspiring production, which has brought so much excitement and delight to the North East”. Queues snaked around the Empire earlier this year when tickets went on sale for the show’s North East debut.

The stage musical is based on the Academy Award-winning 1994 animated film featuring tracks Circle of Life and Can You Feel The Love Tonight.

The touring production, including 23 trucks, a cast of 55 performers and 700 elaborate costumes, now moves on to Cardiff for a nine-week season at the Wales Millennium Centre.

The curtain will fall for the last time on the Sunderland leg of the tour on Saturday.

A limited number of tickets are available until the end of the run.