I got three paragraphs into a full review of The Lion King on Broadway (Pat got me tickets!) before I deleted the whole thing. We all know The Lion King. The Broadway version has been around for more than two decades. While there are elements that I personally did and did not like, for the most part the show is simply The Lion King, beautifully rendered with spectacular puppetry, and that’s that.
But I do want to talk to you about one thing: the first 90 seconds. If you have not seen this musical, I am kinda spoiling things for you, so maybe stop reading? On the other hand, no number of words could ever fully convey the feeling behind what I am about to describe.
All righty, so – the show starts. Rafiki walks out, alone on stage and begins the famous call – Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba, etc.
But THEN it KEEPS GOING, because it’s a musical and you can sing more if you feel like it. It’s not Rafiki now, though. In the far left balcony, she gets an answer from another singer (I think they’re supposed to be some sort of antelope?), more Swahili. And then she answers back, and then ANOTHER singer in the other balcony corner answers, and Rafiki responds joyously, and by this point I there were tears straight up POURING DOWN MY FACE, guys. Why?! I know this song. But something about the presentation totally wrecks me. The entire audience always seems to applaud when the animal puppets first ascend the stage, and I get that, but seriously, I could watch the beginning with just Rafiki and those two guys on repeat for the whole show.
Rereading the above paragraph, I realize I’m doing a God-awful job of describing… any of it. What it is, how it makes me feel. Still, I can tell you this: two weeks later my ballet teacher went. She’s not a huge Disney person. Mind you, she’s not against Disney; she’s just not super into. When I asked her what she thought, her main point was that she, too, cried during the first 90 seconds. See? IT HAS SOME STRANGE POWER.
It’s not the same as being there, but if you want a taste, check out this super nifty 360 video of the opening “Circle of Life” number from the musical. Be sure to swivel the camera around so you can see Rafiki’s balcony buddies!
Truly this is a magnificent work of art. Except for the Magic Mike hyenas. They suck.
Have you ever seen The Lion King on Broadway? Am I seriously overreacting or what? I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE OILED UP HYENAS, OKAY???
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