Archive | 11:30 pm

A Prince. But Not Quite a King

8 May

On my list of all-time favorite movies, The Lion King ranks up there somewhere around number 5 (right after Rushmore, Singin’ in the Rain, North by Northwest, Good Will Hunting, and sometimes What’s Eating Gilbert Grape). So it’s always puzzled me why I never got around to seeing the theatrical adaptation of The Lion King, even though it’s been on Broadway for 10 years. Well, seeing the show is no longer on my to-do list because I saw it Tuesday night at the Broward Center in South Florida.

Unfortunately, Lion King will not be on my top-5 list of musicals (like, say, Company). I liked the show overall, thought it was a very creative adaptation of the movie, but I found some of it corny like a show at Disney World, didn’t like a lot of the individual performances, found the transition between some scenes choppy because they were trying to replicate every scene of the film, and thought the way the story was padded (especially in the second act) just slowed the whole thing down. In fact, the first act is much better than the second, but maybe that’s because that’s when all the good stuff in the movie is. On the other hand, the “He Lives in You” reprise is a really nice addition. I also loved how colorful some scenes were (though not “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King”). But I think the movie is really ingrained in my head, because scenes that always get me when I watch the movie totally got me here too. It’s almost a Pavlovian reaction that I get chills when I see “Circle of Life,” for example, and here, with the animals coming from everywhere in the theater, it had a similar effect on me. The wildebeast stampede scene, too, was an emotional experience seeing it in the theater. It’s hard to watch those scenes play out on stage without thinking of how they look in the movie. I have to say, though, that if there was something I really sorta didn’t like, it’s how Timon and Pumba were portrayed. It’s totally pandering in an attempt to mimic Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella’s performances. I also thought “Hakuna Matata” didn’t end the first act effectively.

So am I happy I finally saw the show? Of course. But when I think of The Lion King, I’ll think more fondly of the movie. To me, that’s a perfect animated movie, and it just can’t be replicated in live action.