THEATER: STAND UP AND ROAR

FORGET THE HYPE; DISNEYS DAZZLING STAGE VERSION OF THE LION KING BRINGS FRESH LIFE TO BROADWAY

Every big Broadway musical these days has the obligatory souvenir stand in the lobby, where happy patrons can buy a Cats T shirt or a Les Miz CD on their way out. But the gaudily restored New Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd Street, where Disney's stage version of The Lion King opened last week, boasts nothing less than an entire store filled with sweatshirts, stuffed animals and other Simba memorabilia. Has there ever been a Broadway show more confident that it will run forever? It has to; how else are the kids going to pass the time before loading up on merchandise?

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