I had so much to say about The Lion King I made it a separate post. You can see my entire NYC post here.
The Minskoff Theatre itself was rather lovely. We had great seats; the front row of the balcony right in the center. We didn’t have to deal with anyone’s heads and we could see everything because we were up a little high, but not too far back.
The show was so good that I cried for the first few songs. Rafiki (who is a woman in the stage show) started and some other singers came up in our part of the audience and then all the amazing puppet animals came in. The gazelles and birds were probably my favorite in that scene. There was an amazing fabric sun and then Pride Rock rotated out of the stage. All of the production design is just stunning. There was a great scene where all the dancers had these huge grass platforms on their heads and were basically portraying the grass.
Madame Tussaud's wax figure of Rafiki in the lobby.
Everyone was so talented; they sang, danced, acted, controlled puppets, worked with moving sets, did wire work, and had to sound like actors who voiced the cartoon. Zazu was brilliant. Mufasa’s voice was almost as good as James Earl Jones. I Just Can’t Wait to Be King was super fun. The kids rode around on these huge fantasy elephants. It must be so much fun for them. The hyenas were pretty cool and they had some extra songs which were really different; more like 80’s rock or something. I loved the elephant graveyard set. I must admit, Be Prepared is fast becoming my favorite number. It was very well done and somehow the hyena’s even managed to do those kick/chorus lines.
Rrrrr! Scar's costume
The stampede was amazing. I couldn’t figure out how they were going to do it, but they had all these rows of things that spun and the wildebeests kept getting bigger and bigger until some of them were actual dancers.
Timon and Pumba were great. I just can’t get over all the amazing puppetry. They added this big dramatic scene where Timon falls in a river and Simba has like, a PTSD incident and freezes up. Some good character development there. The scene where they talk at the stars was cool. There were these dancer guys dressed as basically doing yoga. Timon leaned on one of them to lay down and the grass guy controlled one of his puppet arms. It was the details like that that show how much work has gone into the show. They also added a scene where Scar goes kind of crazy. They added the “There’s the rub” line from Hamlet, which I appreciated. I’m still always amazed to realize that The Lion King is the story of Hamlet. Then he started hitting on Nala. She did an intense solo song with some great lioness dancing and “pride” puns. I just can’t get over those. I could tell that her and Simba were not cast for their dancing ability, but they didn’t dance much, so it was okay. He did have a really cool accent. It kind of threw me off at first (because the kid version of him didn’t.) but I ended up liking it.
There was a lot of added African singing, which was beautiful. I’m really inspired to learn some more African dance now too.
Mufasa head on display in the theatre.
In the reprise He Lives In You, they had this amazing giant Mufasa head that was essentially a puzzle. The pieces were carried in on long poles by several cast members. Peace and I were thinking we need to do something like that for Aslan in Narnia. Oh, I forgot to mention the awesome shadow puppets at a few different points. The final battle was pretty crazy, with fire and rain and moving sets and pride rock and Scar on a wire. When everyone came out for bows, it was surprising to see how small the cast was. The ensemble had a LOT of jobs to do.
Beautiful costume sketch
I have to say that this play was by far the highlight of the trip. It’s not even on the same level as anything else we did. Since we got home, I’ve downloaded the soundtrack and listen to it over and over. I just can’t get over the artistry, the power of the story. And this might sound silly, but I honestly could see God in it. I mean, there are slightly allegorical things in the story, but I can’t help but see God when I see that much talent on display. Creativity like that just can’t be possible without inspiration from the Creator. I’d like to see “Christian art” get to that level.