By Joselle Dizon
Every Disney fanatic has seen The Lion King. The touching story of a young boy’s transformation into a man captures something that everybody has to experience growing up. The movie was first released twenty-one years ago on June 15th, 1994, and to this day, children are still familiar with the tale of how Simba grew up in the vast land of Africa.
The immense popularity of the film prompted a musical adaptation, and in 1997, the first show premiered in the Minskoff Theatre on 45th Street in Manhattan, New York.
Now, in 2015, seeing the live production has become a totally different experience compared to seeing the animated film. The familiar characters on stage make the story much more engaging and lively for the audience.
The costumes – designed so intricately – are true visualizations of the characters. Mufasa, portrayed by Alton White, dons a large headpiece to project his power in the kingdom and his strength within his own family. Thom Warren, who portrayed Scar, wears darker garments to represent his role as the villain.
The set of the show also pays close attention to detail. The ensemble’s vibrant colors truly make for an eye-catching display that transports the audience to a desert in Africa. The focus of the entire musical was the fictional Pride Rock in which a large centerpiece was used to symbolize Simba’s family and friends who are cardinal to his definition of home.
The musical incorporates the oh-so familiar songs from the movie like “Hakuna Matata” and the “Circle of Life” which were among the many crowd favorites in the production. All of the actors and singers paid great homage to such widely acclaimed tunes. The accents and voices of the characters showcase the rich cultural elements of the show. Live music produced from instruments like drums, guitars and pianos also complement the passionate performances.
The success of the production continues to grow. Tickets for the show, performed eight times a week, are selling quickly to tourists, families and Broadway fans from places around the world. So if you’re in New York City and hear lions roaring, don’t be alarmed. Instead, get excited because The Lion King musical is a captivating show and a great way to spend time with family and friends.
Photos by Joselle Dizon