“The Lion King” is coming and it’s big. If you’ve already seen it, you know it’s big. If you haven’t seen it, trust me, it’s big. It is so big that “The Lion King” will be at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk for a whooping 11 days and 16 shows, from Wednesday, May 29 through Sunday, June 9.
If you don’t know the story, you’ve been living under Pride Rock, the rock that the king of all the animals, Mufasa, climbs to proclaim his newborn son, Simba, the future king. The Disney movie was released in 1994 and became one of the highest-grossing animated feature film of all time. Everyone has seen that movie. The universal themes of family and pulling through adversity touch everyone.
There was debate during the planning stages about whether “The Lion King” should be a musical. The music of The Lion King is the best part. Elton John and his longtime collaborator Tim Rice wrote the songs with a score by Hans Zimmer. The score made it easy to turn “The Lion King” into a Broadway musical.
Disney Theatrical Productions did a spectacular job of taking a solid story, and a great score and turning it into something even more than the movie. “The Lion King” debuted on Broadway in 1997 and won five Tony Awards. It is Broadway’s third longest-running show in history.
It is the costumes and the staging that makes the theatrical production of “The Lion King” so spectacular. I said it was big. The original director, Julie Taymor, helped to design the giant puppets that the actors inhabit. I spoke to Kyle Robert Carter, the understudy to Mufasa, but also the “Swing”. He must know all the male leads and be able to live inside the huge puppets.
Carter says, “The puppets are masterpieces by Julie Taymor, but they are physically demanding.” There is an elephant that stands over nine feet tall, operated by four actors, one in each leg. The actors are “locked” into their puppets. They have to move gracefully, like a giraffe or jerky, like an ostrich. There are beautiful kites that represent birds. All this is happening on stage so seamlessly, so flawlessly, to the beautiful score that you forget there are people performing. The animals tell the story and sing the music.
Carter believes that “The Lion King” is a timeless story. He has traveled around the world with this show. It is loved everywhere. Three generations of family often come to the show together. “Everyone is looking for family entertainment. “The Lion King” is the pinnacle. It is truly amazing.”
For more information and to purchase tickets go to https://www.sevenvenues.com/events/detail/disneys-the-lion-king