The billionaire club has a new member. Broadway's mainstay, The Lion King was not long ago inducted into the Musical Hall of Fame. And now, according to Disney Theatrical Productions, the North American touring show that has visited more than 70 cities, has crossed one billion dollars milestone at the box office. Till date, have been bought by more than fifteen million theatergoers who can't get enough of the breathtaking visuals and enchanting music.
Event: The Lion King the Musical
Hit Songs: The Circle of Life, Hakuna Matata, Can You Feel the Love Tonight
Awards: 8 Drama Desk Awards, 2 Theatre World Awards, 5 Tony Awards, 2 Laurence Olivier Awards
Lion King Musical - The Beginning
The overwhelming success of The Lion King movie, which released in 1994 led to its first stage adaptation in 1997. Set around the majestic Serengeti Plains, the musical raises its curtains on the rhythmic African beats as the timeless story of young Simba unfolds. One of the most innovative directors of theatre, Julie Taymor has left no stone unturned to make it a success. Through stunning effects, spectacular colors, masks and puppets, her vision of The Lion King was brought to life, making the musical a hit. Taymor also became the first woman to receive a Tony Award in the category of ‘Best Director of a Musical' and made a record in Broadway history.
Lion King Movie vs. Musical
Besides coming up with a spectacular production, Julie Taymor has also brought innovation into the musical through the dramatic expansion of the story. Few scenes have been added into the script that were missing from the movie. For instance, to further highlight the insanity of ‘Scar', a scene was added in which he tries to convince ‘Nala' to become his mate. There is another scene in which a conversation takes place between ‘Mufasa' and ‘Zazu'. One very important change from the movie is that of the gender of ‘Rafiki'. The makers of the musical were of the view that the movie lacked a powerful female character, hence for Broadway, Rafiki's gender was changed.
A Feast for Eyes and Ears
The Lion King Musical is lauded for its brilliant scenic and stage design. The musical opens with the sun rising on Pride Lands followed by a procession of exotic animals as they pass through the aisles and get on the stage. With ‘Circle of Life' playing in the background, more animal-masked humans and puppets make their way to the stage creating a breathtaking spectacle. Richard Hudson the Set Designer along with Julie Taymor has created a 360 degree experience through an elaborate design. Various wildlife forms including birds, insects and animals fill the airspace, aisles, sky boxes and balconies. Richard Hudson has especially been recognized for his beautiful recreation of the famous wildebeest stampede scene for stage. The effort won him a Tony Award in the category of the ‘Best Scenic Design'.
The magical music by Elton John and Tim Rice has added more depth to the scenes. Songs like Circle of Life, Endless Night, Can You Fell the Love Tonight and Hakuna Matata bring life to the musical. To facilitate the additional scenes, new songs have also been included into the already brilliant repertoire. Chow Down, Be Prepared and The Morning Report are the fresh numbers that help in effective scene transitions.
Awards and Recognitions
The Lion King is the fifth longest running show in Broadway history. Since its premiere the musical has won eight Drama Desk Awards, five Tony Awards and one Theatre World Award in various categories including ‘The Outstanding Musical', ‘The Best Costume Design for a Musical' and ‘Best Choreography'. The Lion King also has to its name two Laurence Olivier Awards. Its latest accomplishment includes getting recognized with Moliere Awards for the ‘Best Lighting Design', ‘Best Costumes' and ‘Best Musical'.