The Lion King (musical)
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The Lion King is a Tony and Olivier Award-winning musical based on the 1994 Disney animated film of the same name with music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice along with the musical score created by Hans Zimmer with choral arrangements by Lebo M. Directed by Julie Taymor, the musical features actors in animal costumes as well as giant, hollow puppets. The show is produced by Disney Theatrical.
The musical debuted July 8, 1997, in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Orpheum Theatre, and was an instant success before premiering on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theater on October 15, 1997 in previews with the official opening on November 13, 1997. On June 13, 2006, the Broadway production moved to the Minskoff Theatre to make way for the musical version of Mary Poppins, where it is still running. It is now Broadway's ninth longest-running show in history.
The show debuted in the West End's Lyceum Theatre on October 19, 1999 and is still running. The cast of the West End production were invited to perform at the Royal Variety Performance 2008 at the London Palladium on December 11, in the presence of senior members of the British Royal Family.
As the sun rises, Rafiki the baboon calls the animals to Pride Rock. She greets King Mufasa and Queen Sarabi before presenting their cub to the gathered animals ("Circle of Life"). Elsewhere, Mufasa's brother, Scar, laments on his lost chance at becoming king. Back at her baobab tree, Rafiki asks the spirits to conjure the new prince's name: Simba.
Time passes and Simba grows into a lively young cub ("Grasslands Chant"). Mufasa shows Simba the Pride Lands from the top of Pride Rock and explains that everything exists in a delicate balance known as the Circle of Life. Mufasa warns Simba not to stray beyond the boundaries of the Pride Lands, pointing out a shadowy area in the distance. Zazu, a hornbill who acts as Mufasa's adviser- he was also the adviser of Mufasa's father, the previous King of the pride lands- arrives and delivers his daily report on the state of affairs in the King's domain, ("The Morning Report") while Simba takes this opportunity to practice his pouncing. Zazu reports that hyenas have been sighted in the Pride Lands and Mufasa leaves to deal with them. Simba goes to see his uncle Scar. The scheming lion piques the cub's curiosity by mentioning the elephant graveyard, a place where Simba is forbidden to go.
The lionesses go out hunting ("The Lioness Hunt"), and Simba arrives and asks his best friend, a female cub named Nala to come with him to the elephant graveyard, although he does not mention their intended location to his mother- he lies that they intend to go to the water-hole. Sarafina (Nala's mother) and Sarabi allow the cubs to go when Zazu accompanies them. Simba and Nala formulate a plan and manage to lose Zazu, while Simba brags about his future position, ("I Just Can't Wait to Be King").
The cubs journey to the graveyard and begin to explore until Zazu stops them. They are about to leave when they are confronted by the three hyenas Shenzi, Banzai and Ed. The Hyenas intend to have all three of the unfortunates for lunch, and gloat over them eagerly, ("Chow Down"). Mufasa arrives to rescue the cubs and frightens off the hyenas.
Mufasa is disappointed and angry that Simba disobeyed him. Simba says that he was only trying to be brave like his father. Mufasa explains that bravery does not mean recklessly seeking out danger. Simba asks whether he and his father will always be together, causing Mufasa to look up to the night sky and tell Simba about the great kings of the past and how they guide and watch over everything ("They Live in You"). Mufasa says that he will always be there for his son.
Back at the elephant graveyard, Scar tells the hyenas that he will soon be king if the hyenas assist him, and that they will never be hungry again if they agree ("Be Prepared"). At Pride Rock, Zazu apologizes to Mufasa for Simba's behavior. Mufasa accepts the apology but admits that he is worried about Simba. Zazu tells Mufasa that Simba resembles the King when he was a cub.
Later, Scar takes Simba to a gorge and tells him to wait there. Scar leaves and signals the hyenas, who start a wildebeest stampede down into the gorge ("The Stampede"). Scar tells Mufasa that Simba is trapped in the gorge, and Mufasa races to his son's aid. Mufasa leaps into the stampede and manages to save his son, but as he climbs a cliff, Scar betrays him and throws him down from the cliff, killing him. Scar convinces Simba that his father's death was his fault, as Mufasa died trying to save him, and that he should flee the Pride Lands. As Simba runs, Scar orders the hyenas to chase and kill Simba. The hyenas obey, but when Banzai has an accident in a thorn bush, they decide to leave him and make Scar believe that Simba is dead. Back at Pride Rock the lionesses and Rafiki mourn the death of Mufasa and Simba (Scar tells them that Simba also died) ("Rafiki Mourns"). Scar climbs to the promontory of Pride Rock, claims the throne for himself, and allows the hyenas into the Pride Lands as his executive staff ("Be Prepared (Reprise)"). Rafiki returns to her tree and smears the drawing of Simba, while Sarabi and Nala mourn for the ones whom they have loved and lost.
Out in the desert, Simba collapses from heat exhaustion. Vultures begin to circle, but are scared away by Timon, the meerkat, and Pumbaa, the warthog. The duo take the cub back to their jungle home and show him their relaxed way of life ("Hakuna Matata"). They tell Simba that they are outcasts as well and later introduce him to their diet of bugs and insects. Simba is captivated by the carefree existence, and stays stays in the jungle with his new friends for a long time- just before the end of Act I, we see the cub transform into an adult lion.
The chorus, dressed in colorful clothes with ornate bird puppets and kites, begin the act ("One by One"). As the song ends, however, the beautiful birds are replaced by vultures and gazelle skeletons. (In some cities, such as in Pittsburgh, some of the Ensemble would come out, and use the birds on flags, to twirl over the audience.) A drought has hit the Pride Lands under Scar's tyrannical rule.
Zazu, now a prisoner of Scar, listens to the king's woes. First, Scar has delusions of Mufasa's ghost haunting in every shadow. Then, he laments that he is not loved and arrives on the idea of finding a queen and having cubs. Nala arrives to inform Scar that there is no food and no water, just as the hyenas reported the same thing a few minutes ago; Scar attempts to flirt with her. Nala escapes ("The Madness of King Scar"). Utterly frustrated and upset by current events, Nala decides to leave the Pride Lands and find help, vowing that she will never forget her pride. The lionesses and Rafiki offer a blessing ("Shadowland").
Back in the jungle, Simba leads Timon and Pumbaa to find a resting place. Timon and Pumbaa want to sleep, but the restless Simba is unable to sleep. Annoyed by Timon and Pumbaa, Simba disappears into the night. Timon and Pumbaa lose their courage and follow Simba through the dark jungle. Simba leaps across a fast-moving river and challenges Timon to do the same. Timon falls into the water and is swept downstream by the current until he reaches a waterfall, where he grabs onto a branch. Simba wants to save Timon but is sent into a flashback of Mufasa's death. Timon falls from the branch and Simba snaps out of the flashback, rescuing his friend. Simba is ashamed that Timon nearly died because of his recklessness.
That night the three friends look up at the stars, wondering what they are. Simba recalls Mufasa's words regarding the great kings of the past, but Timon and Pumbaa dismiss it and laugh at the notion. Simba leaves, looking up at the sky and bitterly remembering his father's promise that he would always be there for Simba ("Endless Night"). At Rafiki's Tree, Rafiki hears Simba's song on the wind and comes to the joyous conclusion that Simba is alive. She draws a mane onto the drawing of Simba on her tree.
In the jungle, Pumbaa is being hunted and chased by a lioness. Simba confronts the lioness and saves his friend. The lioness flips Simba, causing Simba to recognize that the lioness is his childhood friend Nala. Nala is amazed to find Simba alive, knowing that he is the rightful king. Timon and Pumbaa are confused by this, and Simba tells the two to leave so that he and Nala can be alone. Timon realizes what is happening and laments that he and Pumbaa's Hakuna Matata lifestyle has come to an end ("Can You Feel the Love Tonight"). Nala tells Simba about the state of the devastated Pride Lands, trying to encourage him to return and take his rightful place as king. Simba is still guilty about his father's death and leaves.
On his own, Simba meets Rafiki, who explains that his father is still alive ("He Lives in You (Reprise)"). As Simba looks toward the sky, his father appears as a heavenly vision. Mufasa reminds Simba that he is the rightful king and must return home. Simba is persuaded and heads for Pride Rock.
Meanwhile, Nala wakes Timon and Pumbaa to ask where Simba is. Rafiki appears and tells them that he has returned to Pride Rock.
Simba returns to Pride Rock with Nala, Timon and Pumbaa, where he witnesses the ruin that his home has fallen into. Timon and Pumbaa lure some hyenas out of their path by providing a diversion. Timon dresses in drag and does the hula while Pumbaa plays as the stuffed pig. Simba tells Nala to go find his mother while he goes look for Scar.
Scar calls for Sarabi and demands to know why the lionesses are not hunting. Sarabi tells him that there is no food or water and that they need to leave Pride Rock to survive. Scar refuses and when Sarabi snaps at him about not being half the king Mufasa was, Scar strikes his sister-in-law saying that he was ten times the king Mufasa was. At this, an enraged Simba leaps down, startling Scar, who believes his nephew to be dead. Scar forces a confession of murder from Simba and attacks him, forcing him over the edge of Pride Rock. Believing that he has won, Scar whispers to Simba that he was the one who killed Mufasa. Simba, infuriated, leaps up and grabs Scar by the throat, causing Scar to reveal the truth. A fierce battle rages between the lionesses, Timon, Pumbaa, Rafiki and the hyenas ("Simba Confronts Scar").
Simba corners Scar on the top of Pride Rock, where Scar begs for his life and blames everything on the hyenas. In a repetition of Scar's words to cub Simba, Simba tells Scar to run away and never return. Scar, with the thought of Simba killing him, appears to follow this request, but turns quickly and attacks Simba again. Simba is able to block the attack, making Scar trip and fall over the cliff where the hyenas are waiting below. They surround their former leader and kill him.
The battle having finally ended, Simba's friends come forward and acknowledge Simba as the new and rightful king. Rafiki arrives and places the king's mantle on Simba. Simba climbs to the top of Pride Rock and roars out across the kingdom. The animals gather at the call of their new king and celebrate ("King of Pride Rock"). Rafiki, Nala and Simba ascend Pride Rock where Rafiki lifts Simba and Nala's newborn cub high into the air, thus continuing the Circle of Life and ushering in a new golden age ("Circle of Life (Reprise)").