Monday, November 23, 2015

The Lion King: Fangirling, Adoration, and Love

*fans self* Okay, so I went to see The Lion King yesterday and I kind of died inside and though I’d like to send you off with some coherent, rational response really this is just me getting out my undying love for The Lion King and probably musicals in general.

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My favorite character, beyond a doubt, was Rafiki. On stage, she’s a girl, which is in accordance to the nature of female spiritual leaders from the cultures Lion King is drawing from. She was simply amazing. She was funny and she was sassy but she was also wise and insightful. I will write a post on Rafiki some other time, but suffice it to say that Rafiki is my favorite character in the musical. Because she is awesome.

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The costumes, beyond a doubt, were spectacular. I don’t know if the job of the person who designed them was “theater engineer” but that’s totally what they were, and they were heart-stoppingly gorgeous. Maybe you can see the humans in them, so they don’t look like “real animals,” but their designs all carried the spirit of the real animals, and that was superb.

Speaking of engineering, the wildebeest scene also really impressed me—in the film, that entire scene, which probably isn’t even five minutes, took something like two years to animate simply because there were so many wildebeests. On stage, it was really cool to see the way that the animals were set up to give the impression of an overwhelming stampede without actually needing three hundred actors. I was really impressed.

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Oh, I loved the bright colors! I think The Lion King in general is supposed to be a more showy musical, but the last few musicals I’ve seen professionally produced have been things like Evita and Jekyll and Hyde and so forth—and things tend to be a little more dark in those musicals, so the costumes reflect that. The Lion King, more than anything, is not just a story of a prince reclaiming his birthright but a story of balance against imbalance, or good versus evil, as we might deem it—that even though there is sadness and darkness and pain the circle turns, bringing life, and hope, back to power every time. There is such power in those colorful costumes.

Let’s see… songs! I really enjoyed the rendition of “He Lives in You” performed during the “look at the stars” scene between Simba and Mufasa—I’ve really, really loved this song in The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride (not sure for which came first though, the sequel or the musical) and I think it’s a really enchanting song about heritage and guidance and spirituality and it seriously was amazing. Mufasa nailed it (as did his backup singers, of course).

And “Be Prepared,” “The Circle of Life,” “Shadowland,” and all the other songs were good, too. Just that “He Lives in You” shall always be my favorite.

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Speaking of “Shadowland,” Nala was perhaps my second favorite character. She had a very strong leadership presence, was graceful and fierce but also loving and kind. She was the best kind of carnivore.

More than that, I really liked the exploration of the female identity onstage, too. Of course, female lions do the hunting, and I really enjoyed the lionesses’ hunting scene, but there were other aspects, too. For example, many of the story’s main events are instigated by male characters—Simba, Scar, Mufasa, Timon, and Pumbaa especially—and considering how similar the lionesses are, how little they seem to do compared to the top guys, it seems easy to assume that they’re just extras. But that’s not how I saw it. The lionesses had many important roles without which Simba would not have returned to Pride Rock.

  • When the lionesses asked in unison, “So, where is this ‘cool place’?” they demonstrated a role of motherhood, but distinctly in a demonstration of protection and guardianship.
  • When Mufasa died, it was the lionesses who cried—it was the lionesses who mourned (also, Rafiki). In mourning they remembered, and in remembering, it was they who held onto the values of balance while Scar was in power.
  • Thus, in holding onto those values, it was the lionesses who passed on that value of balance to Nala, so that when they and Rafiki were forced to send her off, she too would remember her pride and the identity that came with it. No matter where she went, Nala would still be woven into the fabric of their tradition, which would be important because…
  • It is Rafiki and Nala who bring Simba back home again. Simba has forgotten his identity and his responsibility and it takes the women who have remembered their identities and traditions to knock sense into him and restore him to his throne.

And sure, I totally just made it sound like the role of the lionesses completely falls into that “sphere of domesticity” nonsense, but I think the real point the musical is making is not that the lionesses belong in distinctly familial roles, but rather that everyone belongs in distinctly familial roles, and the two characters who abandon their family—Scar and Simba—are really the ones who makes things the way they aren’t supposed to be. Bottom line, the best thing about the lionesses and Rafiki is that they have a distinct and important identity integral to the Circle of Life and they’re the only ones who manage to not screw things up in the whole musical. Plus, I loved their costumes.

Lastly, a shout-out to Zazu for the slight alteration of his annoying song from “It’s a Small World” to “Let It Go.” I think every parent in that theater felt Scar’s pain.

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IT WAS SO GOOD. I could not have asked for a better birthday gift (although an early gift, to be fair). I have talked so much about it, though. Just leave knowing that the king has returned.

I could not think of a more inspiring way to send you off.

Do you like The Lion King, movie or musical? What are your favorite parts?


6 comments :

  1. Question 1: What about your blogoversary?
    Question 2: When is your birthday exactly.
    Random fact # 1 : I have a friend called rafiki. He's blonde and australian.
    This sounds SOO good (Also like an excellent gift: whoever gave it has good taste). I've never seen the musical, but The Lion King was one of my first disney movies. From these photos, the costumes look amazing (i'll just believe the singing was too)They don't look animated or childish at all, but capture an animal while looking sophisticated and awesome. I like your interpretation of the lionesses (in the movie, Nala is one of my favourite characters)How did the wildebeest scene work? Thank you for sharing this, it sounds amazing!

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    1. That's tomorrow!

      Sorry, I don't share that on the Internet.

      That's so cool! I would hope he's a good friend. :)

      Well, it was what I asked for, and my parents bought it for me. XD The engineering of the costumes is actually quite amazing, and it's really an enchanting piece of work put together. I hope you can see it someday! :)

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  2. This sounds amazing!!! It was down in Brisbane a few months ago but we didn't get to go. The costumes look amazing and I'm sure the songs and the acting was awesome too. It sounds like an amazing birthday present, and thanks for sharing your experiences!!

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    1. Aw, that's too bad. Hopefully you can get to see it sometime in the future. Lion King is one of my favorite Disney movies, so you can imagine I was biased towards the musical, but yes, I highly recommend it. :)

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  3. This. This looks fabulous and I want to go now.

    That is all.

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    1. I fully endorse that comment.

      That is also all.

      Delete

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