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The Lion King: King of the Musicals

Jun 29 – Jul 12, 2023

lion king

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.

Scars’ pact with the hyenas leads to Mufasa’ demise and Scars’ ascent to the throne. Young Simba then had to choose to stay or flee into the unfamiliar world of the jungle. His decision ultimately affects his destiny and the future of the lion community’s pride.

Simba’s journey is one of danger and self-realization. Along the way he meets a cast of characters that sends the audience roaring in laughter while they witness the cub mature into adulthood.

For anyone who has seen the animated film, the story has not changed, but the theatrical version is a magnificent spectacle of birds in balletic flight, gorgeous costumes, amazing shadow puppetry, and songs that everyone seemed to know the words.

The Lion King is the winner of six Tony Awards including Best Musical. It plays at the Kennedy Center through July 29, 2023.  
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