A successful 'Lion King' run could be a game– changer for the Van Wezel.  A strong three–week showing of the Disney hit should show other producers that the Van Wezel can pull in the crowds for major performances. This will be the longest run of any show in the hall's history.

Mary Bensel, the hall's executive director, has worked in Florida for over 20 years and feels there is no reason that Sarasota should not be a major tour stop and, in fact, should be one of the major stops for Florida theaters. The Lion King has a cast of 49 performers and 18 musicians along with dozens of behind– the –scenes crew.

Disney's "The Lion King" runs through March 31 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Sarasota.