After years of Fresno-area theater fans whining like hyenas about the unfairness of it all, there is justice on the savanna: In six months, “The Lion King” is coming to Fresno.
The extravagant Broadway touring production, known for its fanciful puppets and elaborate, actor-inhabited animal costumes that have provided untold billable hours for the nation’s chiropractors, will open Nov. 28 at the Saroyan Theatre for a 12-day run. The show opened in New York in 1997 and is still going strong. So it took 20 years for Fresno to feel the love tonight. No wonder the wildebeests were getting restless.
Season tickets go on sale online at 8 a.m. today (Monday, May 14). The announcement was embargoed until that time. You can also purchase by phone at 888-255-9363 and in person at the Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center Box Office, 700 M Street. (Hours for the box office are listed as 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, and I’m not sure if it will be opening early for this sale.)
The 2018-19 Fresno Lexus Broadway In Fresno season has some other big titles as well. “Something Rotten!” — the newest title in the season — will play April 16-17, 2019. The 20th anniversary of “RENT” will play Feb. 6-7, 2019. “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I,” based on the the 2015 Tony Award-winning Lincoln Center Theater production, will play Jan 15-16.
And, in a special add-on to the season, “Wicked” will return for a third time to Fresno on March 20, 2019, and run through March 31. Season-ticket holders will get first shot at “Wicked” tickets.
For years, the technical and logistical demands of “The Lion King” made it difficult for the show to play in Fresno. Improvements to the Saroyan Theatre for the first visit of “Wicked” helped pave the way.
All this is in addition to the return of “The Book of Mormon” Oct.3-7, 2018 (which is technically the last show of the 2017-18 season).
Broadway in Fresno calls it the city’s “biggest season ever,” and that’s a legitimate claim. With extended runs for “The Lion King” and “Wicked,” plus the other shows in the season, there will be almost a solid month’s worth of dates of touring productions playing downtown.
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