Three reasons to see The Lion King at the Detroit Opera
DETROIT – After a sold-out tour at the Opera in 2017, Disney’s The Lion King bring the lands of pride back to Detroit for 2022.
Whether you’ve never seen it or have seen it seven times (like me), there’s a reason the show has been running for 24 years and reigns as Disney’s longest running theatrical production. You may be thinking, âI already know the story. Mufasa dies, it’s so sad, blah, blah, blah.
But you are wrong. Nothing compares to the Broadway version of the movie. You do not believe me ? Here’s why you need to see it.
The movie was released in 1994 and the show has been running since 1997, so there’s no plot to spoil. But the way the story comes to life on stage unfolds in a radically different way. From the start of the show, you already live The Lion King in a completely different way.
During “The Circle of Life,” you’ll see some of the biggest “animals” in the series, some of which might walk down your driveway. The two giraffes you’ll see are 14 feet tall, with each actor having to climb a six-foot ladder just to enter the puppet, climb onto stilts, and cross the stage.
The show’s elephant, nicknamed Bertha by the backstage crew when it premiered in 1997, is the tallest and longest animal in the show. It measures 13 feet long, 12 feet high, and nine feet wide, and requires four actors to carefully walk it around and bring it to life.
Chances are, when you think about The Lion King, one of the most famous scenes that comes to mind is of Rafiki holding young Simba on Pride Rock in front of all the animals bowing down below. By the way, this scene has been parodied many times – even the The Detroit Tigers make a “Simba Cam”.
Pride Rock appears five times throughout the show and runs on drums to expand outward like an accordion up to 18 feet wide at its fullest position on stage.
If you’re wondering how other scenes play out, like how the wildebeest scene comes to life, you’ll have to wait and see the show.
The original film’s animators traveled to Kenya to portray the most accurate depiction of African wildlife, but it was more than seen for the variety of cultures that culminate in the film.
The soundtrack and the score shared an equally important role. South African composer Lebo M. has linked the unique rhythms and songs of South African culture in the score composed by Hans Zimmer to make The Lion King stand out as one of Disney’s most diverse films.
Throughout the Broadway show, you’ll hear six different African languages ââsung or spoken.
Percussion is one of the most integral aspects of South African music, and it is no stranger to The Lion King on Broadway. When you find your seat inside the Opera, you will see two percussionists on the sides of the stage. Once the show begins, you’ll see them play as the sounds of Africa come to life right in front of you. Instruments like the Djembe and Bongo drums act as a narrator to help tell the story.
The live symphony orchestra that performs below the stage and is hidden from the audience is the unseen superstar of the show. One of the most important instruments in the show is the flute. Fifteen different flutes from countries such as India and China are used throughout the show, each in its own way to represent a specific character or setting.
One of director Julie Taymor’s biggest challenges has been bringing the animals to life on stage, even though it’s not just the animals that are personified through the costumes.
Some costumes represent sets and different environmental elements of the show. According to Taymor, every piece of fabric used to create the costumes for the show was printed and painted by hand. Much of the fabric, beads and other materials used to create the costumes came directly from Africa.
As for the creation of puppets and masks, we are inspired by Japan, Indonesia and Africa. In fact, it took Taymor and his team over 37,000 hours to build the show’s puppets and masks.
Taymor has created what she calls the “double event”, which shows both the actor and the puppet. Most of the lions in the show have masks mounted on the actors’ heads, while other characters, like Zazu, Timon, and Pumbaa, have to act through their costumes (by the way, Pumbaa’s costume weighs 45 pounds).
There’s a reason the show has been seen by over 100 million people worldwide. Don’t take my word for it.
The show won more than 70 awards, including the 1998 Tony Award for Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical, making Taymor the first woman in theater history to receive this honor.
Because The Lion KingBroadway, nearly 250 South Africans have been employed in one or more of the world’s productions as lead actors, ensemble dancers/singers, musicians or crew members. This number continues to increase.
The North American traveling production uses 18 trucks to transport puppets, scenery and other materials from city to city.
The show has more than 200 puppets.
There are 142 people involved in the production of the show, including 51 cast members.
The tour requires three days of advance preparation and four days of on-site technical preparation to set up physical production in each new city.
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