Julie Taymor is directing at the Kennedy Center, Disney’s eye popping, heart pounding, jaw dropping sing-along, iconic story of love, struggle, betrayal, and faith through the eyes of Africa’s wild animal kingdom. The Center’s stage was brilliantly transformed by an ensemble wearing the most elaborate costumes as they appeared as: elephants, giraffes, hippopotamuses, leopards, birds, flowers, skimming gazelles and hyenas.
I marveled at the exotic procession of animals dancing and singing down the aisles past an astounded audience. Some costumes soared fifteen feet above the stage. The Kennedy Center’s opulent ambience waned as the playhouse was swept into the majestic lion kingdom of King Mufasa.
The story of the lion cub’s hard road to adulthood and the throne of the kingdom he hopes to inherit told in the 1994 animated film that captured the hearts and souls of young and old, was brought to life. The audience fell in love, as well as cried and laughed, at young cub Simba struggled to be like his commanding father Mufasa. And, Mufasa struggled to teach his puerile son discipline and the circle of life.
Every good story has an antagonist. In the Lion King, it’s Scar, Mufasa’s jealous and calculating brother, played convincingly by veteran actor Peter Hargrave. His hatred of Mufasa is so palpable, that he joins forces with the lions’ number one enemy: the hyenas.