Lion King the first time, the fourth time

By Jim Bucher
It’s funny, sitting in the beautiful Schuster Center about five minutes before curtain, soaking in the sights and sounds of families, grown-ups and little ones giddy with excitement over the number one musical in the world, Disney’s The Lion King.

Count me in as giddy, too.

No matter your economic status, race or religion, we’re all here for an evening away from our own problems and troubles in the world.

And it did not disappoint.

What’s also kind of funny is even though personally I’ve experienced this wonderful show four times now; it seems like the first all over again.

My first brush with Simba and company was in the Big Apple—New York, New York, the city so nice they named it twice.

As I recall, the time was right before the 9/11 terrorist attacks that forever changed all our lives. This show/musical/extravaganza was everywhere you looked. It was huge (or as Bernie Sanders would say, ‘UGE’).

Now, I’ve seen my fair share of Broadway shows from Jerry Lewis in Damn Yankees, to the old Kenley Players productions—this, though, was something I’ve never experienced. Ever.

Most shows BDLK, (Before Disney’s The Lion King,) were performed on stage. (*SPOILER ALERT*) This show came to you, down the aisles with breathtaking costumes, a sort of animal animatronics, pageantry and music.

Heck, if I had false teeth, they’d be in my lap.

So by the time you read this, you’ll have another two weeks to put DLK on your bucket list.

My buddy Ken Neufeld, president and CEO of Victoria Theatre Association, tells me some 70,000 people will be downtown to see the show, with an estimated $10.5 million impact, and adds, “It is a pleasure to welcome Disney’s The Lion King back to the Schuster Center stage. Ticket sales have exceeded our expectations, and there are still great seats available, especially in the third and fourth weeks of the show.” (Which, again, is right about now.)

The evening I was on hand we produced another “Buch’s Video Blogs” for the VTA, which if I may plug, you can check out on Just hit the “video” link in the menu.

At each Broadway show, we grab a sampling at intermission on what Miami Valley audiences are saying.

This particular go-around was a bit different as we encountered folks from Cincinnati, Detroit and St. Louis all here to share in the magic, plus bringing along for the ride some of that $10.5 million to spend on souvenirs, restaurants and hotels.

Ain’t it grand!

Now, hopefully you know after three years as your Dayton City Paper “premier” (would you believe my editor Amanda added that word?) On The Beat columnist, I love facts and figures, so here are a few WOW statistics from DLK.

It’s won 70 global theatrical awards including six Tony awards, a Grammy for “Best Musical Show Album,” as well as international acclaim.

The largest and longest animal in the show is that cool looking elephant at 13 feet long and nine feet wide. BTW, she was nicknamed Bertha by the back stage crew when the show premiered in 1997.

The tallest? You guessed it, the 18-foot exotic giraffes.

There are some 200 puppets, including rod and shadow and full-size puppets.

There are six indigenous African languages spoken in the show.

The Lion King has been translated into
seven languages

Worldwide, nearly 1,100 people are directly employed by The Lion King, including 20 whose sole mission is artistic upkeep of the show.

Since The Lion King’s Broadway premiere, well over 200 South Africans have been employed in one or more of the global productions as lead actors, ensemble/dancers/singers, musicians or members of the crew.

On tour, there are 134 people directly involved with the daily production of the show, including one child guardian and a physical therapist. Some of those costumes are pretty heavy.

And get this, the North American touring production, which is on stage here and launched in 2002, uses 18 trucks to transport Simba, Scar and crew, 14 of which are semi-trailers. Holy cow!

The tour requires three days of advance prep and four days of on-site technical preparation at the respective venue to set up the physical production in each new city.

So, you see, it’s a pretty big deal to Scar, I mean score The Lion King tickets. It’s one of the hottest shows out there and kudos to the Victoria staff for bringing it back to the Gem City.

As 8-year-old Robbie tells me,
“It’s stupendous.”

Heck, I didn’t know the meaning of that word until high school.

Oh, and hakuna matata!


For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at

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For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at

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