The Lion King: The World's #1 Musical (Source:

PLAYBOY - One Disney film united us all in settling the score for the most affecting plot twist known to cartoon-kind for anyone born south of 1998. The African-set movie further embedded itself in our hearts and minds by rounding up a powerhouse cast of artists that we already knew and love, and then paired them with a soundtrack that was guaranteed to stay in our ears for a very long time. Indeed, to this day, few people are hard pressed to mention a scene more surprising and heartbreaking than the Lion King’s stampede shot.

The musical version of the beloved Disney classic debuted at the Orpheum Theater in Minnesota before premiering in Broadway’s very own New Amsterdam Theater only a few months later, In 1997. It eventually widened its audience reach by opening in London’s The West End in 1999, and nearly 2 decades later, finally producing an official international touring cast that is shared worldwide.

Lion King: The Musical opened its Manila run on March 28, 2018 at the Solaire Resort & Casino. The small theater housed back to back to back shows of full houses that inevitably led to a show extension; closing on May 27, 2 weeks past the original intended date. The overwhelming demand and fervor shown by the Pinoy audience is a testament to the skills needed to mount a musical of the Lion King’s caliber.

Utterly silent, still, and pitch black, the opening notes for the Circle of Life begins to play and we watch the stage come to life before our eyes. In one of the world’s most beloved and famous opening numbers, the musical perfectly mirrors its movie counterpart but set in a grander scale. In muted tones of oranges, browns, and tans, cast members as various animals appear from all sides, including a giant elephant and several giraffes coming from the audience. It is unhurried, it is inspiring, and it is downright wrecking. Tears pool in the corner of eyes as mouths open in stunned disbelief at the sheer magnitude of the production and all it promises to be. The opening number is no doubt my favorite part of the production – it is the strongest one of the bunch and it shows the force of talent found in the musical – not just with the actors, but with the designers, choreographers, directors, and various other below-the-line crew.

The rest of the show is not as big, but it makes up for that by reacquainting us with familiar faces and favorite tunes. Standout performances led by Rafiki, Zazu, Timon, and Pumbaa bring in a large factor of nostalgia to the show, and we immediately connect with these long-standing fan favorites. Unfortunately, when it comes to the scoring, the songs from the movie outshine its musical counterpart. New numbers such as Mufasa’s They Live In You, Nala’s Shadowland, and Simba’s Endless Night don’t hold the same impact as the originals, and we are left waiting for the next familiar tune to play.

As a whole, Lion King: the Musical is more about the production and less about the music. Weaker points are forgiven due to the full force of the show in its entirety, and the entirety is one delicious package wrapped in hugs, comfort, and a whole lot of awe. It is no wonder the fans keep clamoring for more. (Playboy Philippines)

Post A Comment: