Moral Barometer Writer
The show that is winner of Best Show Album, Best Musical, Best Featured Actor and Actress in a Musical, Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, Best Lighting Design, Best Puppet Design, Best Sound Design, Best Choreography, and Best Director of a Musical has made its way to South Florida. Wow, that’s a lot of awards. “The Lion King” has sold out thousands of performances and continues to wow audiences everywhere it plays. In fact, here in South Florida, you can only get a ticket if you have already purchased one, or by a special order. Golly, if you actually get to make it there, you’re a lucky bastard.
Disney seems to have a great hold on what to feed audiences. Sometimes their grip on consumerism makes one nauseous, but this is a must-see trend. The company we love to hate has found a new way of regenerating and recycling their well-told stories. This time, the company fuses live actors with moving puppets, live African music, and operatic voices to give a spellbinding effect. The way they infuse their motion picture into a play confounds the use of scenery that moves before your eye in such a way that entraps the audience in a wonderment that is beyond explanation.
For instance, during a major song, one can see the floor open up into a three-dimensional artifice that not only gives depth to the audience, but also makes one wonder how the hell some scene designer was able to construct this set with such a moveable and harmonious collection. The hyenas entering the stage create a feeling of danger and disparity that only a play as this one can carry. In addition, a continuation of what was learned in the film comes to fruition as the audience is able to contemplate the arc of this well-known story. The original film broke new ground by reaching not just young children, but adults as well, and it continues to do the same in its new form.
What may contribute greatly to this spectacle are the universal themes that underlie “The Lion King,” such as being brave, having to prove oneself, or just surviving in general. It is no coincidence that the only characters that are not puppetmasters in the show are the lions and lionesses. This adds a stronger connection to these main characters as one sees how closely the circumstances can relate to human life-Simba not only must feel the pain of his “mistake,” but also ends up ousting himself from his family for many years almost to the point of no return.
Of the several influences that require Simba’s immediate attention, none has more impact than the vision he has of his father, Mufasa. His father tells him to “Remember…Remember who you are and where you came from.” These powerful words hit home to anyone who has ever felt the need to pretend or program him or herself into a different soul. The actors on stage do it all the time, but are able to come back to themselves easily. Humans doing this for different reasons years down the line may never be able to return to their roots. In this instance, however, more weight is placed on just being able to remember what makes up oneself, and we hope Simba can have this realization and act upon it before it is too late. Or maybe that person just identifies and hopes that they can realize and change their lives before it is too late.
“The Lion King” plays through Dec. 8 at the Broward Center of the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale. Call (954) 462-0222 for more info.