SYDNEY, Dec. 14 (Xinhua)-- Opening this weekend to packed houses and civic excitement, the Lion King stage production has seemingly completed Sydney's ascension as the Asia-Pacific's capital of the stage musical.
Sydney's usually dour Taxis are painted as giant Simba Lions; children are dragging about lion soft-toys and even the local government has been keen to bathe in the warm glow of popularity that the latest in a string of international productions has created in Sydney.
The locally created production of one of the world's most popular stage musicals, The Lion King, opened its Australian exclusive run this week at Sydney's Capitol Theater, seemingly crowning Sydney as a major live performance capital of the world.
A thrilled State Minister for Tourism, Events and the Arts, George Souris, told Xinhua that the show would out perform even the most successful shows to have toured through Sydney in the last years -- and that includes world-beaters like Wicked and Phantom of the Opera.
"Fans of this phenomenally successful musical, from Sydney and across Australia, have welcomed The Lion King with open arms, resulting in record breaking ticket sales," he said.
The Minister's office anticipates that the Australian production entirely exclusive to Sydney - will generate about half a million ticket sales, with around 50,000 interstate and international patrons traveling to Sydney to see the show.
The State's tourism and events unit, Destination NSW, told Xinhua that the number of visitors alone means an injection of 28 million Australian dollars into the state economy.
The Disney organization anticipates that the cumulative economic impact to NSW will be about 100 million Australian dollars confirmation that the stage musical sector is booming and only likely to grow in the coming months.
That bodes well for the launch of the musical adaptation of one of Australia's most loved and iconic films Baz Luhrmann's Strictly Ballroom, which will hit the stage here next year.
The build-up to Strictly Ballroom's long-awaited arrival has reached fever pitch after delays have pushed back the opening night because of Luhrmann's constant tweaking of his Hollywood blockbuster The Great Gatsby; and an already packed stage calendar with the two Kings -- the King Kong musical in Melbourne, and Sydney's Lion King taking precedence.
When Strictly Ballroom was released, it gained 13 Australian Film Institute (AFI) nominations, winning eight categories.
The Lion King by comparison is an international blockbuster and the highest-grossing stage show in the world, with more than 70 million people having enjoyed the musical since its Broadway premiere in 1997.
The highly-regarded live show is the winner of more than 70 major international awards including, six Tony Awards in 1998 and a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album.
Sydney's Lion King is the 22nd production worldwide and the 10th production running concurrently, the highest number in the show's history.
Certainly, this is one of the biggest productions ever to open in Sydney and the capacity of these events to drive tourism, create jobs and grow the local economy is never missed by decision makers.
Now in its 16th year, The Lion King continues to reign as a cultural phenomenon and one of the most popular stage musicals in the world.
Since its Broadway premiere on Nov. 13, 1997, 21 global productions have been watched by more than 68 million people and, cumulatively, run a mind-boggling 96 years.