Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thirty Days of Disney Movies, Day Fifteen - Favorite Play Adaptation

In the 30-Day Disney Movie Challenge, it would've been easy to come up with a favorite Disney movie based on a stage play (1953's Peter Pan, based on the 1904 play by J. M. Barrie--next), but for this installment, I decided to reverse the tables and go with a stage adaptation of a Disney movie, if only because the choice is so remarkable a piece of entertainment.

It's The Lion King.

The Tony Award-wining musical, directed by Julie Taymor and featuring the music and lyrics of Elton John and Tim Rice, debuted on Broadway in 1997 and has been going strong ever since with numerous national tours and international productions (it just began performances in Singapore earlier this year). Two years ago, it took up residency at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas (my hometown), where I've seen it twice and have been totally enchanted each time.

In June 2009, I wrote:
The story is familiar to even the most casual of Disney fans. Simba, a young lion, must choose between the two life paths set before him: the path of his father, Mufasa, the mighty king of the pride lands; or the path of least resistance, an escapist world in the jungle where "hakuna matata" ("no worries") is the philosophy to live by. In choosing, Simba must come to grips with his nagging sense of responsibility and ultimately confront his treacherous uncle Scar, who has plans of his own to rule the African savanna.

The Lion King tells its tale on stage utilizing an exquisite blend of lighting, rotating sets and nifty gadgetry. After seeing many stills and clips of the stage production over the years, I always wondered how much of a distraction the combination of live actors, masks and mechanical puppets would be. It turns out to be no distraction at all as they seamlessly meld their animal and anthropomorphic characteristics. The audience's attention is always directed where it needs to be, whether on an actor's face, the lion mask/headdress he or she wears, or the whirligig contraptions that evoke soaring birds and frolicking antelope. It's a feast for the eyes that requires only your very willing imagination to make complete.
Disney recently announced that The Lion King would extend its run in Las Vegas to the end of this year. Looks like I'll be able to catch it a third time (at least) before it leaves town.


  1. The Lion King is one of my favorite Disney animated features of all time. I caught the Lion King musical on Broadway and it completely blew me away. Just the way they integrated the costumes and actors was amazing. And the added songs to the movie soundtrack are so awesome. We were just in Vegas last weekend and I keep trying to get my hubby to go see Lion King again. Maybe I'll convince him by the end of the year!

  2. I saw this in London a couple of years back! Goosebumps all the way through! It was epic! :D