Unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard some mention of The Lion King musical in the last twenty years. The multiple award-winning play is based on the animated Disney film of the same name. It came to movie theaters on June 15, 1994. Due to its box office success, Disney Theatrical Productions created a musical version which debuted on July 8, 1997 at Minneapolis’ Orpheum Theatre. Its continued popularity led to a Broadway premiere on October 15, 1997 at the New Amsterdam Theater, and the play has been reproduced for packed houses in cities all over the world ever since.
Explore these three reasons why the musical keeps going strong.
Costume and Set Design
Image via Flickr by dullhunk
The highest-grossing stage show in history is a work of art. The timeless production owes most of its glory to stunning visualizations. Tony Award winning director Julie Taymor, who also helms the costume, mask, and puppet designs, masterfully blends live action with the feel of the original cartoon. From a river of silk banners to giraffes on stilts, kids and adults are amazed by the awe-inspiring effects. Headpieces adorned with flowing grass personify the African savannah where the story is set. With every scene change, you are transported into the characters’ world. Animals abound and the obvious human performances of them are part of the brilliance.
Good Versus Evil Plot
At the heart of The Lion King is a story that continues to captivate audiences. Young lion Simba is a member of a royal family, and he adores his father Mufasa, King of the Pride Lands. Simba’s uncle Scar causes Mufasa’s death, but convinces Simba that he is responsible. This forces the young lion to flee and leave everything behind. Years later, an adult Simba returns home. He battles Scar, who became the king, to reclaim his rightful place as heir to the throne. Who doesn’t love a good redemption story? It’s perfect for viewers of all ages to enjoy. An eternal story of good triumphing over evil.
A Family Tradition
Image via Flickr by tommyc
More than twenty years have passed since The Lion King first graced a movie screen. Naturally, the children who were initially bowled over by it can’t keep it to themselves. They have gone on to share it with their children. Due to its warm embrace, live shows of The Lion King are a welcome event for popular playhouses. Children of the 1990s are now traveling to metropolitan cities to view the musical with their sons and daughters. It has become a highlight for many family vacations — seeing a show of this magnitude in a city far away from home makes it a truly memorable experience.
Songs written by the legendary Elton John and Tim Rice have been expertly arranged by South African composer Lebo M. to provide heart-stopping numbers. Rich choreography by Tony Award winner Garth Fagan complements the thunderous score. The charm of this piece also lies in its ability to laugh at itself by sporadic references to current events. These are just some of the reasons why The Lion King is the third longest-running Broadway show.