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Adrienne Krock, editor
Disney on Broadway - Part Two

In my previous article, I looked at Disney's Beauty and the Beast theater musical. Today, I review The Lion King, another Disney musical that has received rave reviews.


The Lion King

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Promotional art © Disney - Photos by Joan Marcus of the original Broadway production
These photos are of desktops you can download at the official site - click on this LINK or the photo above to go to it

Disney's attempt to revive Times Square began on November 13, 1997 with the opening of The Lion King. One of the most innovative musicals to open on the "Great White Way," this stage adaptation of the film stunned all critics and audiences who saw it, and earned many awards, including the 1998 Tony™ for Best Musical. It is was the biggest hit New York has seen in years, selling out shows many months in advance.

The story is an adaptation of Shakespeare's Hamlet, Disney style: Simba, a young lion cub that can't wait to be king is faced with tragedy when his evil uncle kills his father, the king. Thinking that his father's death is his own fault, the cub runs off to a remote desert, where he lives a carefree and irresponsible life in the company of a meerkat and a wart hog. However when Simba learns that it was his uncle who killed his father, and ruined his homeland, he must call on his own strength and courage to confront him, and reclaim his rightful throne as king.

CLICK HERE FOR DESKTOPS
Promotional art © Disney - Photos by Joan Marcus of the original Broadway production
These photos are of desktops you can download at the official site - click on this LINK or the photo above to go to it

The Lion King features a wide range of music, most of it deriving from African choral singing chants. The rhythms and instrumentation are borrowed from a number of cultures, and each song uses unique instruments for all of the songs. Over nineteen different types of wood flutes and many different drums are used also. One of the most memorable scenes in the show occurs during the first five minutes, when "The Circle Of Life," is performed. Giraffes, elephants, gazelles and lions take the stage celebrating Simba's birth.

The characters also experience changes in this musical in a manner similar to those in Beauty and the Beast. Simba discovers that he must learn to live without his father and he goes through a hard time coping with his death in "Endless Night." Nala also realizes that she must leave the Pridelands to find help for her family against the evil Scar, as she sings "Shadowland" which expresses her feelings on the condemned place.

The one thing I felt about the music in the play was that many of the songs lacked the emotion that should have been present. Songs like "They Live In You," and "Circle of Life" were bursting with feeling, but while many others like "Morning Report" and "Chow Down" combined lively music and dance steps, they traded emotional feel in exchange for a brighter touch. Regardless, the music in this production was extremely innovative.

CLICK HERE FOR DESKTOPS
Promotional art © Disney - Photos by Joan Marcus of the original Broadway production
These photos are of desktops you can download at the official site - click on this LINK or the photo above to go to it

The costumes and puppetry used in The Lion King are unlike any other used in a Broadway show in the past. Director Julie Taymor wanted to create puppets and masks that allowed all the energy to come from the actors. Over 232 puppets and masks, made of from over 750 pounds of silicon rubber, are used in the show. The lions are all portrayed via masks worn on the actor's heads, and all of the animal costumes used allow movements to be articulated through the actors' bodies.

The costumes and puppets are so well- created that you often forget that you're are watching actors in a play, and not animals performing. Over twenty-five kinds of animals are represented, the tallest animals in the musical production are four "exotic" giraffes in the "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" scene. The smallest animal is the a trick mouse at the end of Scar's cane, while the longest animal is the elephant, designed to reduce in size to fit in theater aisles. The costumes took over 35,000 hours and hundreds of people to create.

The scenic set designs, such as Pride Rock also use special effects to help tell the story. The set evokes a vast African landscape and features numerous African textiles. Numerous pure and bright patterns make up the beautiful stage. Pride Rock, many animals, and geysers spring from the floor of the stage, and lighting also adds to the effects. In the case of Mufasa's ghost, the stage darkens completely as overlapping images of crisply focused dots of light project on a sculpted mask hanging overhead.

CLICK HERE FOR DESKTOPS
Promotional art © Disney - Photos by Joan Marcus of the original Broadway production
These photos are of desktops you can download at the official site - click on this LINK or the photo above to go to it

The Lion King is an innovative play, and was the newest and most creative thing to hit Broadway. This production has a great story and characters, numerous different types of music and miraculous costumes that give you the effect that you actually stepped into the African savanna. The show is still a hot ticket on Broadway, as well as in Los Angeles. It is so innovative that it is extremely enjoyable and loved by many people. This show is guaranteed to move audiences with the agony Simba faces with coping his father's death, or Nala's quest to find help for her family.

As you see, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King are two completely different musicals but also very great in numerous ways. Beauty and the Beast is a classic love story between a beast and his yearn to love, and a beauty with her longing for adventure. It is everything you would expect from a Broadway show. It brings a classy and formal look to the stage with wonderful costumes and elaborate sets, but few stage surprises.


Promotional art © Disney - Photos by Joan Marcus of the original Broadway production
These photos are of desktops you can download at the official site - click on this LINK or the photo above to go to it

The Lion King is like nothing anyone has ever seen before. It is a very innovative and creative play and is a modern-day marvel. The sets aren't as elaborate as in Beauty and the Beast, but still bring out the atmosphere and charm of Africa. Both shows contain numerous illusions, great costumes and many stage surprises.

I have yet to see Aida, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Little Mermaid but hope they will be as wonderful and entertaining as Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King.

- Christopher


Coming Soon:
"Superstar Limo- You're Hollywood's Newest Superstar"


Have any questions, comments or suggestions for future columns? Drop me a line at coolkids@mouseplanet.com. I'd really enjoy hearing from you!

Promotional art © Disney
Promotional art © Disney

OTHER LINKS:

You can visit the official Disney website for the show

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Hi!
My name is Christopher.

I am thirteen years old and live with my family in Southern California. I am currently a high school student, and an avid fan of Disneyland Resort. Other than visiting the "Happiest Place On Earth," I have numerous hobbies, the most significant of which is acting.

Acting has always been a major hobby of mine. I have been participating in numerous plays, movies and productions all of my life, and hope to eventually accomplish my dreams of becoming a famous actor. Some of my recent works include productions of The King and I, Shakespeare- Enough Already, and Ebeneezer. Other than acting, I enjoy playing the alto saxophone for my high school jazz band, playing the keyboard / piano, listening to music (especially the Rent soundtrack), and visiting the Disneyland Resort.

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