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The Lion King

An award-winning musical based on the 1994 Disney animated film of the same name

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The Lion Roars On Broadway

  • Jul 6, 2009
  • by

Though Disney has become a force to be reckoned with in the world of Broadway, it’s scary to think that most of their productions can’t always compete with the more elaborate shows that are playing across the street. “The Lion King,” directed by Julie Taymor, is a rare exception to that rule. Not only is this a show that does the source material justice, it also gives the original movie a run for it’s money. The storyline is pretty much the same as in the movie, except here it is expanded upon in ways the movie probably couldn’t. Extra scenes with Mufasa and Simba expand on their relationship much better then in the movie. Not only that, but the new songs from Elton John and Tim Rice meld so perfectly in with the established ones that it’s amazing Disney hasn’t gone to the effort to integrate them into the existing film.

Well, okay, they did that. For one song. “The Morning Report,” which is easily the weakest of the new songs. But the songs aren’t the only thing that makes this stage adaptation work. No, if there is a standout it has to be the costumes and set decorations. Whenever I talk to someone about this show the first reason they will bring up for loving this show is Taymor’s carefully designed costumes. Though there is never the illusion that these are people playing animals, the design goes a long way to make it unique. Most of the costumes are head pieces, which bend in a way to make the actors look like leaping animals when they pose in certain ways. You can certainly say the silverware in “Beauty & The Beast” wasn’t nearly as inspired.

The acting is also worthy of praise, especially from Samuel E. Wright and John Vickery. As Mufasa Wright (in a Tony-nominated role) brings a quiet dignity to his character that is both compelling and emotional. You truly feel like he is the King of Pride Rock, and that makes his inevitable death all the more powerful when it happens. Likewise Vickery brings a menace to Scar that was absent even in the movie. Ironically, he also makes the characters goofier then in the movie, and it’s to his credit this doesn’t diminish the quality of the villain. “The Lion King” won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical and one for Taymor for Best Director (the first time a female won this award).

The show continues to play to this day and has become a favorite Off Broadway show. It’s one of those rare shows that people can enjoy whether they like Broadway or not. If you only see five Broadway shows in your life make this one of them. But don’t worry too much about making a trip out-of-town; chances are if you’re in a city that has some sort of decently sized stage you’ll get a production of it eventually.

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More The Lion King (musical) reviews
review by . December 28, 2010
Great first musical for kids - though choose your city wisely!
The Lion King blew me away the first time I saw it (probably around 2005 or so), but after going again recently (fall 2010), I found it slow and tedious in parts. I think this was largely due to seeing it outside of a top tier market the second time.  It's a fantastic, must-see for any musical theater fan, but choose your city wisely.       Our first experience was at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles (Hollywood) - and it was breathtaking.  The music draws …
Quick Tip by . April 19, 2011
play was boring, and the only thing worth the price of the ticket was the costumes
review by . March 05, 2010
The Lion King: Inspired Design for a Wonderful Story
Overall - The Lion King was very well done - combining everything I loved about the animated Disney film with everything I love about theater. Using incredible techniques, this production had a design aesthetic all its own and has earned a position in Broadway history because of it.   Story - Based loosely on Shakespeare's Hamlet, the musical's story is the same as the film's: Scar, in an attempt to claim the crown, kills the current king and attempts to have Pride Rock's heir, Simba, …
review by . March 09, 2010
I am a huge Disney fan-obviously- so when I walked into the Minskoff Theater to see The Lion King on broadway on August 19th, I knew I would be enjoying the show. I just didn't know how amazing it would be!!!!      The theater itself is fantastic, as is the view of Times Square from the lobby! After looking around a little, Chris and I sat down in our seats, which were really good and settled down to watch the show.      Some of my favorite parts would be …
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
Lion King blew me away the first time I saw it, but after going again recently (years later), I found it slow and tedious in parts. Costumes are of course stellar, and probably the strongest part of the show.
Quick Tip by . February 18, 2010
Seen it twice. The music is awesome and they way they make the animals move is crazy awesome!
About the reviewer
Kevin T. Rodriguez ()
Kevin T. Rodriguez is an aspiring film journalist. He's more comfortable typing a review then doing an on-camera appearance, but he loves doing the occasional rant. Whether it be on movies, eBay, or comics, … more
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Winner of six 1998 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, The Lion King pulses with an award-winning score and innovative puppetry to bring the classic story of young royal heir Simba and the animals of the African Pride Lands to vivid life.
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Genre: Musical

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