Hunter Intro to Theatre

"The Lion King" Reviewed by Robert Lee

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    Robert Lee
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    Robert Lee
    THEA101: Introduction to Theatre
    1D02
    Performance Reflection Paper

    “The Lion King”

    On February 28th, 2015 I attended and watched the New York City Broadway Play, “The Lion King”. Before going into the play I had, mixed feelings. When I first saw, The Lion King, I saw it as a boy but it was the Disney animated version. The whole concept of the movie was any child’s dream. As a little boy, I would dance and sing to songs played in the movie such as “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King”, “Hakuna Matata”, and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”? Now that I’m all grown up and in college I was given an assignment in my Theatre 101 class to watch and write about any theatre production of my choice. Knowing this, the first thought that jumped to my head was to watch “The Lion King” on Broadway. Fast forward to that night, I still had mixed feelings before I watched the show. I was worried that the show wasn’t going to be as good as the original movie or that they wouldn’t play my favorite songs. After, I watched the show however, I was proven wrong and here’s my reflection about it.
    The performance on Saturday Evening, February 28th, 2015, started with the cast, and ensemble singing “Circle of Life” introducing all the animals and the main characters of the story such as Mufasa, Rafiki, Sarabi and finally baby Simba. The show went in the same order as the film did, but they added in a few new songs and dances. What really amazed me was the effects and the way the stage played a big part in the show. In any theatrical performance, the stage is where the story is being told but in “The Lion King”, the stage was art. In the movie, the setting is based in Africa but more importantly Pride Rock. Pride Rock is where the lions and lionesses live, as well as where all the animals of the kingdom gather for the showing of the baby cubs. In this performance, the stage was in constant motion, consistently bringing an imitation Pride Rock from under the stage to above it on numerous occasions. I’m not trying to spoil the movie for anybody who didn’t watch it, but also the scene in the movie where Simba is running for his dear life during a stampede of Wildebeests was also depicted well in the show. The stage was created into three different chambers, one in front of the other, where the back showed images of the wildebeests running, the second chamber showed a treadmill of live actors running, and the third chamber showed Simba running from them.
    The show went on to playing different songs that told the story more in depth than the movie. Because the show was split into two different acts with an intermission in between, the end of Act One showed the death of Mufasa, the real plans of Scar, Simba’s reaction to his father’s death and his uncle’s advice, Simba meeting Timon & Pumbaa, and finally the discovery of “Hakuna Matata”. At the very end of Act One, we were shown Simba growing up from a baby cub to a grown lion during the song “Hakuna Matata”.
    In Act Two, we’re shown that the very place Simba was born and Mufasa once ruled is now a wasteland. Because Scar took over as King after Mufasa’s death, he allowed his hyena companions to also live with the lions and lionesses. With the land not being able to support life any more, Sarabi suggests to Scar that their only option of survival is to leave Pride Rock. Scar pays no mind to her opinion and just tells her and other lionesses to keep hunting for remaining animal. Nala, one of the friend’s Simba grew up with reunites with Simba after so long and tells Simba of Scar’s wicked ways. After reconnecting, the two sing “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”, one of my favorite songs from the movie. Nala tells Simba, she must go back and reclaim his right as King. Feared that everyone would find out about how Mufasa died, Simba refuses to go back. It wasn’t until Rafiki showed Simba, through the stars that Mufasa is still alive and that he must go back to be king.
    Act Two ended with Simba returning back to Pride Rock and challenging Scar for his right to the throne. Scar tells everyone that it was Simba’s fault for the death of Mufasa, tricking Simba into almost falling to his death. Scar admitted to Simba right after, that it was he, which killed his own brother Mufasa. Overpowering his uncle, Simba spares Scar, and banishes him from the kingdom instead of killing him. Trying to sneak in an attack, Scar misses and falls to his death where he is killed by the hyenas for betraying them. The show ends as it began, but instead of Mufasa and Sarabi as the king and queen of Pride Rock, it is Simba and Nala. Rafiki is shown lifting Simba’s baby cub, the same way Rafiki lifted up Mufasa’s baby cub, Simba.
    My thoughts on the production was that it was really good and I would recommend watching the show to anyone. Going into the show, I was afraid of it disappointing me however it did the exact opposite. Watching the show brought back good memories I had when I was a kid. The ensemble, and actors sang all three songs that I love from the movie. The special effects really impressed me because with such a limited space and time, the stage crew really worked hard. The fact that they were able to create scenes and images using lights and their own displays was awesome. I enjoyed how they recreated the scenes where Mufasa fell into the stampede, the showing of the baby cubs on Pride Rock, and the scene where Scar fell to his grave.
    Overall, the play was phenomenal. I went with a fellow student in the class, and we both enjoyed watching it because we both grew up watching The Lion King. The show did raise some questions though. I wondered why they made a female play Rafiki, a male character and why the actors used swords for the fight scenes. I wondered if the swords were meant to resemble the claws of a lion or if it was just for the show. At the end of the night, I didn’t have that many questions because of how much I enjoyed watching the show.

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