Growing up in India and dreaming of moving to America one of the great bonuses about living in New Jersey is the ability to hop on the path train or roll out in my car to enjoy Broadway theater with musicals being my favorite.
English is my fourth language but what’s great about music—the international language — is that I absorb the feelings and that helps me understand the story better.
There is theater in India, of course, it’s been in existence since the 2nd century BCE and the 1st century CE. During the Islamic rule in India,
the theatre was forbidden/restricted in certain areas. But where there is a will there is a way and in time, village theatre emerged as a way to entertain. This form of storytelling was so popular with the people that over the past few decades, it has branched out to include ‘nukad-nataak’ —street theater—and these productions usually carry a strong social message with it.
On my bucket list of Broadway musicals in the number one spot is
Disney’s THE LION KING by Tony Award®-winning director Julie Taymor.
Last week, I got to cross it off my list. I will never forget the opening of THE LION KING’s “Circle Of Life” ( Click here ). The hairs on the back of neck and arms, raised and seemed to sway to Elton John and Tim Rice’s uplifting music which is beautifully arranged. The actors transported me into their magical world, and Taymor’s vision was fully realized with the arrival of the elephants, giraffes, and people on stage, starting this epic journey with a roar. Like millions of kids around the world, some of my favorite childhood memories are attached to the original 1994 animated feature, “The Lion King” but I had no idea that the musical could tug at my heartstrings in such a powerful way.
Taymor’s imaginative ideas seem limitless. Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions (under the direction of Thomas Schumacher), THE LION KING has made theatrical history with six productions worldwide running 15 or more years and four others running 20 or more years and over its lifetime in nine different languages (English, Japanese, German, Korean, French, Dutch, Spanish, Mandarin, and Portuguese). By the end of this year (2021) there will be ten productions of THE LION KING around the world, including Broadway, London, Paris, Hamburg, Tokyo, Madrid, on tour across North America, Japan, and the U.K. & Ireland, with a separate production touring internationally. Having played over 100 cities in 21 countries on every continent except Antarctica, The Lion King’s worldwide gross exceeds that of any film, Broadway show, or other entertainment titles in box office history. The Lion King won six 1998 Tony Awards®: Best Musical, Best Scenic Design (Richard Hudson), Best Costume Design (Julie Taymor), Best Lighting Design (Donald Holder), Best Choreography (Garth Fagan) and Best Direction of a Musical. The Lion King has also earned more than 70 major arts awards including the 1998 NY Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, the 1999 Grammy® for Best Musical Show Album, the 1999 Evening Standard Award for Theatrical Event of the Year and the 1999 Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Choreography and Best Costume Design.
The show’s director, costume designer and mask co-designer Julie Taymor continues to play an integral part in the show’s ongoing success. The first woman to win a Tony Award for Direction of a Musical, Taymor continues to supervise new productions of the show around the world.
The Broadway score features Elton John and Tim Rice’s songs from The Lion King animated film along with three new songs by John and Rice; additional musical material by South African Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Julie Taymor and Hans Zimmer; and music from “Rhythm of the Pride Lands,” an album inspired by the original music in the film, written by Lebo M, Mark Mancina and Hans Zimmer. The resulting sound of The Lion King is a fusion of Western popular music and the distinctive sounds and rhythms of Africa, ranging from the Academy Award®-winning song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” to Lebo M’s rich choral numbers.
The Broadway cast of the THE LION KING stars Stephen Carlile as Scar, L. Steven Taylor as Mufasa, Tshidi Manye as Rafiki, Cameron Pow as Zazu, Ben Jeffrey as Pumbaa, Fred Berman as Timon, Brandon A. McCall as Simba, Adrienne Walker as Nala, James Brown-Orleans as Banzai, Bonita J. Hamilton as Shenzi and Robb Sapp as Ed. Vince Ermita and Corey J. alternate as Young Simba, and Alayna Martus and Sydney Elise Russell alternate as Young Nala.
I highly recommend this jaw-dropping magnificent spectacle because THE LION KING is a pure visual tapestry, simply put, there is nothing else like it.
For more information worldwide, visit LionKing.com.