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June 12, 2018

Wharton Center to offer Sensory-Friendly Performance for Disney’s THE LION KING

Wharton Center for Performing Arts will present a special performance of Disney’s THE LION KING for individuals with sensory, social and learning disabilities and their families on Saturday, July 21 at 2:00 PM. This marks the first-ever sensory-friendly performance of a touring Broadway show in East Lansing. Wharton Center has previously presented sensory-friendly performances for their Act One Family Series.

Modeled after a successful performance of THE LION KING sponsored by the Theatre Development Fund (TDF) at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway, Wharton Center’s sensory-friendly experience provides a supportive environment for the audience. Slight adjustments to the performance will be implemented. For example, jarring sounds will be reduced and strobe lights focused into the audience will be eliminated. In addition, there will be several quiet spaces and activity areas for families.  There will be standing and movement accessibility throughout the theatre, and sensory objects including fidgets, earplugs and noise canceling headphones will be available. Trained staff and volunteers will provide support and assistance to patrons.


“We know that for people with sensory sensitivities — a group that includes many who are on the autism spectrum — attending a live theatre production can be a minefield of potential challenges. Wharton Center’s mission is to make theatre accessible to everyone,” noted Executive Director Mike Brand. “In addition, we are hoping that the entire family can come to Wharton Center to relax and enjoy what we offer in a friendly, welcoming environment.”

Patrons will have access to illustrated guidance materials and have an opportunity to become familiar with the theatre and their seat locations before they attend the show through materials provided online. They are also encouraged to bring their own manipulatives, seat cushions, comfort objects and extra support items, including electronic devices, to the theatre to use during the performance.


Tickets are available at Wharton Center’s official ticketing outlets: online at whartoncenter.com/sfplionking , at the Auto-Owner’s Insurance Ticket Office at Wharton Center or by calling 1-800-WHARTON. Orders for groups of ten (10) or more may be placed by calling (517) 884-3130. Specific information about Wharton Center’s Sensory Friendly Performances can be found online at www.whartoncenter.com/sfp.


After 20 landmark years on Broadway, THE LION KING continues ascendant as one of the most popular stage musicals in the world.  Since its premiere on November 13, 1997, 25 global productions have been seen by more than 95 million people.  Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions (under the direction of Thomas Schumacher), THE LION KING is the only show in history to generate six productions worldwide running 15 or more years.  Performed in eight different languages (Japanese, German, Korean, French, Dutch, Spanish, Mandarin and Portuguese), productions of THE LION KING can currently be seen on Broadway; London’s West End; Hamburg; Tokyo and Sapporo; Madrid; Scheveningen, Holland; Manila, Philippines; and on tour across North America, for a total of nine productions running concurrently across the globe.  Having played over 100 cities in 20 countries on every continent except Antarctica, THE LION KING’s worldwide gross exceeds that of any film, Broadway show or other entertainment title in box office history.          

THE LION KING won six 1998 Tony Awards®:  Best Musical, Best Scenic Design (Richard Hudson), Best Costume Design (Julie Taymor), Best Lighting Design (Donald Holder), Best Choreography (Garth Fagan) and Best Direction of a Musical.  THE LION KING has also earned more than 70 major arts awards including the 1998 NY Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, the 1999 Grammy® for Best Musical Show Album, the 1999 Evening Standard Award for Theatrical Event of the Year and the 1999 Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Choreography and Best Costume Design. 

The show’s director, costume designer and mask co-designer Julie Taymor continues to play an integral part in the show’s ongoing success.  The first woman to win a Tony Award for Direction of a Musical, Taymor has in recent years supervised new productions of the show around the world.

The Broadway score features Elton John and Tim Rice’s music from The Lion King animated film along with three new songs by John and Rice; additional musical material by South African Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Julie Taymor and Hans Zimmer; and music from "Rhythm of the Pride Lands," an album inspired by the original music in the film, written by Lebo M, Mark Mancina and Hans Zimmer.  The resulting sound of THE LION KING is a fusion of Western popular music and the distinctive sounds and rhythms of Africa, ranging from the Academy Award®-winning song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” to the haunting ballad “Shadowland.” 

The book has been adapted by Roger Allers, who co-directed The Lion King animated feature, and Irene Mecchi, who co-wrote the film’s screenplay.  Other members of the creative team include:  Michael Curry, who designed the masks and puppets with Taymor, Steve Canyon Kennedy (sound design), Michael Ward (hair and makeup design), John Stefaniuk (associate director), Marey Griffith (associate choreographer), Clement Ishmael (music supervisor) and Doc Zorthian (production supervisor). Anne Quart serves as co-producer.

For more information worldwide, visit LionKing.com.

Shows, dates, times, prices, and artists are subject to change.

Performance Schedule:

SFP performance on Saturday, July 21 at 2:00 p.m.
Tuesdays through Thursdays at 7:30 pm
Fridays at 8:00 pm
Saturdays at 2:00 and 8:00 pm
Sundays at 1:00 and 6:30 pm

**Please note that during the first week of the engagement, there will be no Tuesday evening performance and instead a Thursday matinee at 2:00 pm. There will also be no Sunday evening performance on July 29, and instead there will be a Thursday matinee on July 26 at 2:00 pm.

This East Lansing engagement of Disney’s THE LION KING is welcomed by Auto-Owners Insurance; Delta Dental of Michigan; Farm Bureau Insurance; Ingham County and the Arts Council of Greater Lansing; Jackson National Life Insurance Company; and McLaren Greater Lansing.