Answers to all your questions about the Lion King musical on Broadway. Learn about the reviews, plot summary, ticket prices, information on where to buy tickets and more.
What can we say about “The Lion King” the Musical?
- Third longest-running musical on Broadway? Check.
- Six Tony Awards? Check!
- Highest-grossing Broadway musical of all times? Double check!
All that stands behind this grand success is the fruit of the combined efforts of Tim Rice (lyrics), the book by Irene Mecchi and Roger Allers, and all the amazing music, courtesy to Elton John, Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Julie Taymor, and Hans Zimmer, all directed by Julie Taymor. Oh, and thanks to nostalgia, too, because this is the stage offspring of the legendary Disney animation movie that we all know and love.
Plot Summary for Lion King the Musical
As the sun breaks above the Pride Lands, Rafiki the mandrill introduces the animals of the land to their prince — Simba! He is the son and heir to King Mufasa and Queen Sarabi. But it’s not all sunshine in the Pride Lands, or at least not for everyone. Scar, Mufasa’s brother, just lost his best chance of becoming king and plots his next move.
As time passes, Simba grows into a lively cub. He is introduced to the land and the Circle of Life by his father, along with the dangers of the elephant graveyard that is strictly restricted. This sparks the young lion’s imagination. He ventures there along with Nala — his besty, after they fool Zazu the hornbill (and Mufasa’s chief advisor). And not without a tiny push by his loving uncle Scar. Once there, the young adventurers are attacked by Scar’s hyena lackeys — Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed. However, Simba and Nala are saved by Mufasa. He proceeds to scold his heir on bravery, bravado, and the kings of old watching them from the stars. Zazu, however, mentions that the king had the same habit as Simba when he was young.
Back at the graveyard Scar sets his plan to seize the throne in action. He gathers an army of hyenas that start a wildebeest in a gorge, while Simba is there. He then calls Mufasa, who jumps to save his son. He succeeds, only to be pushed back in the stampede by Scar, who later convinces Simba, that the death of his father is his fault. Crushed by guilt, Simba escapes, just as Scar seizes power over the Pride Lands.
Simba manages to dodge the hyenas that Scar has sent after him, but ventures way too deep into the desert. As he nears death, he is saved by two familiar and well-beloved faces (and my personal favorites).
Act II starts cheerfully, but this ends abruptly, as the stage is covered by skeletons and vultures. The Pride Lands are in a serious decline under Scar’s rule, who is scaling into madness. He is confronted by Nala, now a grown lioness. He decides to make her his queen, but she refuses and leaves the Pride Lands.
Back in the jungle Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa (you’ve probably already recognized them) have an argument whether they should be sleeping or doing anything. Simba leaves, but the two goofs follow. Timon then falls into a fast river, and Simba suffers a flashback of his father’s death, but still manages to get himself together and rescue his friend. The three then head home and sing a song that the wind carries to Rafiki. Then the three run into Nala. Or at least Pumbaa does and barely becomes her lunch. Simba saves him but recognizes his old friend. She informs him about Scar’s rule, but Simba refuses to return home due to his guilt. He then meets with Rafiki and Mufasa (in the sky, just like a great king of old), where they tell him that he needs to act. The four return to the Pride Lands, and while Timon and Pumbaa dance a Charleston to the hyenas, Simba and Nala attack the Pride Rock.
Simba arrives at the top of the Rock just as Scar is about to strike Sarabi. He accuses his uncle of regicide (or if you prefer — fratricide). After a short fight Scar asks for mercy, but tries to sucker punch Simba. The young king blocks and Scar falls off the cliff and is eaten by the hungry hyenas.
The show closes with king Simba’s roar. He and queen Nala are introduced to their cub, thus continuing the Circle of Life.
Reception and acclaims
“The Lion King” received high acclaims from both audience and critics even during its trial in Minneapolis. Fans love the story, the music, and the amazing costumes. Critics are also generous in their reviews, calling it a theatrical achievement, awe-inspiring and jaw-dropping spectacle. Along with those well-deserved compliments, “The Lion King” won the staggering six Tony Awards on the 1998 ceremony.
“The Lion King” paved the way for several stars from the original cast like Jason Raize (Simba), and Heather Headley (Nala), who are established stars today. Samuel E. Wright and Tsidii Le Loka (Scar and Rafiki) received nominations for Best Performance by a Featured Actor and Actress in a Musical but sadly didn’t win. If Scar was worthy of something, it was a Tony Award.
We can easily say that the music of “The Lion King” is the epitome of iconic. The scores were some of the features that made the animated movie so popular. But no one can expect something different by the constellation that handled the music. The names of Elton John, Tim Rice, and Hans Zimmer amongst the rest can easily guarantee a smashing success. We can easily say that every single song of the show is easily recognizable, but if we need to point a couple of them out, then I’ll personally go with “Circle of Life”, “Hakuna Matata”, and to give one to the bad guys — “Be Prepared”.
The original recording was released by The Walt Disney Company in 1997. Lebo M was the mastermind behind it and thus the strong African influence of most of the songs.
The masks of “The Lion King”
The masks and the costumes of “The Lion King” are the features that distinguish the show from all other on Broadway. They are all an idea of Julie Taymor. She has drawn inspiration for all over the world — Bunraku Japanese Theatre, the Indonesian shadow puppets, and tribal African masks. This makes the characters on stage to look like a chimera — half-human, half beast, and this is fascinating! It also won Mrs. Taymor a Tony Award for Costume Design.
“The Lion King” seating chart
Every evening, the Minskoff Theatre becomes the Pride Lands for yet another wild performance. The Minskoff is the home of “The Lion King” since June 2006, when it was moved there from The New Amsterdam Theatre.
The venue is big, as every savanna should be. Its 1,621 are separated into two sections — a large orchestra and a mezzanine. Due to its size you need to look carefully for seats.
The Lion King — Ticket Availability and Prices
“The Lion King” premiered on Broadway on October 15, 1997 — nearly 23 years ago. Today the show is nonetheless popular than it was in ’97. So if you’re looking to buy tickets for the show you need to react as early as possible. Your best option is to buy no later than three days before the performance you want to visit.
The HackPick today goes to BroadwayPass for providing both a primary and secondary market tickets to their users. Three days before the selected performance you will find around 400 tickets at their box offices around Times Square, and about 178 tickets at their website, with prices around $115 and $145 respectively.
Our analysis ranks Ticketmaster in second place, due to them operating only at the primary market and having moderate fees for their tickets.
When you take a closer look at “The Lion King” you can see that it resembles a Shakespeare royal drama. One can say that Simba is Prince Hamlet, Mufasa — King Hamlet, Sarabi — Gertrude, and Polonius as Zazu, even Scar as Claudius.
“The Lion King” is a superb Broadway show, well suited and beloved by visitors of all ages. A masterpiece on all levels, it holds inside it everything you need — action, twists, love, laugh, fear, and a happy ending. At some points the show is so intense that it will surely make the kids in the audience jump and shout in their seats. That is why at the 20th anniversary, “The Lion King” grossed $ 8.1 billion worldwide!
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