Elton John gave a surprise performance of “Circle of Life,” made our Disney dreams come true

Just when we thought things couldn’t get any better Lion King-wise, Sir Elton John himself gave us the best gift. The music icon unexpectedly showed up to celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Lion King on Broadway on November 5th, and his soulful performance of “Circle of Life” honestly means no worries for the rest of our days.

The Lion King stage show debuted in November 1997, three years after the OG animated classic landed in theaters — and it was, obviously, an instant hit.

Aside from featuring the movie’s beloved soundtrack (co-written by John) and story, the Broadway show blew audiences’ minds with its crazy inventive puppetry and costumes. It made Julie Taymor the first woman to win the Tony for directing a musical. And with more than $1 billion in ticket sales, it’s still the most successful show in Broadway history. There have been 24 productions around the world in the years since and more than 90 million people have seen the musical. Not bad, Simba.

Disney has a history of taking its stories from screen to stage (Frozen‘s set to make its Broadway debut in February), but because of its particularly ground-breaking production value and success, The Lion King has earned the extra accolades its been getting this week.

"There's so many parts of The Lion King that do so many things for people," Taymor told NPR. "So it's not just the entertainment value. This thing about 'he lives in you,' the idea of The Lion King doing what theater originally was always meant to do, which is, besides entertain, to heal."

Sunday night’s event was basically as epic as when the entire freaking animal kingdom gathers at Pride Rock in The Lion King‘s opening scene.

In addition to John, Taymor, and lyricist Tim Rice, more than 100 cast alumni made appearances, too. John’s surprise performance went down right after curtain call, with the current cast providing beautiful back-up.


The show’s birthday bash is set to continue into next week, with a Times Square event complete with cast photo ops and drum circles scheduled for Sunday and a Hamilton-style lottery underway for tickets to next Wednesday night’s performance (the official anniversary).

After that, we’ll all have to BE PREPARED to wait another year for the next big Lion King milestone: the star-studded live-action movie won’t hit theaters until summer of 2019.

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