CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Gugwana Dlamini, playing the part of Rifiki, opened yesterday's press conference with the song "Circle of Life" from "The Lion King."
Lion King' comes to town Sept. 15
General admission tickets go on sale in April starting at $30
Mayor Mufi Hannemann smiled. "I guess the best-kept secret in Honolulu is out of the bag," he said. "'The Lion King' is coming to town!"
It wasn't the best-kept secret by a long shot. When the Blaisdell Concert Hall was booked for a mysterious several-month run this fall, displacing the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, the speculation began.
Few candidates were big enough to fill those shoes, and "Lion King" was the leading contender.
After billions in ticket sales, millions of viewers, a decade-long run on Broadway that shows no sign of fading, two national road companies and dozens of foreign-language stage adaptations and many awards, Julie Taymor's vision of the Disney animated film has become a certified classic.
Yesterday, the mayor and various "Lion King" pukka sahibs made it official: Beginning Sept. 15, "Lion King" settles into an open-ended engagement at the Blaisdell. The press conference began with a song by cast member Gugwana Dlamini, duded out in a Rifiki costume.
"Arts and entertainment define world-class cities," said Hannemann. "And the economic impact, bare minimum, is at least $15 million into city coffers, and that always makes me happy."
Jack Lucas, president of WestCoast Entertainment, the company managing the tour, thanked the symphony for being so understanding and pointed out that only the cast and management will be from out of town. Musicians, stagehands and others will be local hires.
Reservations for groups of 20 or more can be made starting today at 593-2468. Outrigger Hotels, a sponsor of the show, also makes show-and-room packages available today at 866-721-4221. General admission tickets go on sale in April at $30 to $85.
Lucas presented Hannemann with a "Lion King" tour jacket that seemed several sizes too small for the towering mayor. As Hannemann stared at it doubtfully, Lucas surprised him with a one-of-a-kind "Lion King" aloha shirt.
"Now this I'm hanging on to," said Hannemann.