After the success of the 1994 animated Disney film "The Lion King," director Roger Allers did not immediately start dreaming about a Broadway version. "I figured this will never be a musical," Allers said. "Who would watch people running around in fuzzy costumes?" The rest, of course, is history -- a history that does not include fuzzy costumes. The stage version of "The Lion King," with songs by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice, has been a hit since it opened in 1997 on Broadway, where it's still running. A national touring production arrived in Baltimore this week for a month-long engagement at the Hippodrome, where it packed in crowds for 14 weeks in 2005. This is one sturdy musical. In turning "The Lion King" into a musical for the stage, Allers and co-writer Irene Mecchi preserved more than half of the film's dialogue, and all of its messages. "The themes are universal," Allers said. "Dealing with life and death and with guilt, what happens when you lose the guiding light in your world, the estrangement of someone from society -- these are heavy topics, but we relieved them with comedy."
Joan Marcus, Handout photo
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