In celebration of The Lion King’s 20th anniversary – Disney have created a beautifully produced book outlining the journey of the animated movie to theatre form; the process of developing the movie into a show on Broadway and why The Lion King has become one of Disney’s greatest hits, and Broadway’s highest grossing show of all time.
I, for one, am its biggest fan. For me, the music, the storyline, and perhaps the bond between child and father touched my heart. The theatre production only exemplifies an already successful story, bringing it to life in a stunning display of costumes, dance and song.
At its root, the tale of Simba is that of a young prince who must face his destiny to be king. The universal, mythic paradigm of the story is told in the European tradition from Greek tragedy and early epics through medieval romances and into the psychological and post-psychological present.
The story itself is reminiscent of epic tragedys, such as Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and condensed into a movie that young children can easily digest, yet also has enough substance that transfixes adults as well. I remember relating to Simba’s thought processes as a child; his need to prove himself, to be as strong as his father, and his dread when he fears his father is angry with him. I presume most children would find something relatable in those emotions, most of all, the guilt Simba feels when his father dies, an irrational thought, yet one children commonly experience when things go wrong at home, especially pertaining to their parents.
“The success of the movie,” says Taymor, “is its humanity. It’s not that they’re animals. It’s that they’re humans in animal guise.” So, the solution to the physical production would be to visualize the animal/human equivalence.
The characters may be in animal form, but they represent what is human in all of us.
This volume will also feature stories from the creators and the actors of the show, and display never-before-published images both onstage and behind the scenes from the many productions around the world.
The Lion King is a universally beloved musical, whereby both children and adults alike are fascinated by the tale – this edition is one for fans to cherish forever; a beautiful keepsake.
The Lion King: Twenty Years on Broadway and Around The World is published by Disney Editions on 14th December 2017 (9781484773765, h/b, £41.99)
Post by Sarah