Last week, I was lucky enough to go check out a little musical on Broadway called The Lion King. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? If not, I understand. Everyone’s all “Hamilton! Yeah! History!” And in their craze for the story about a guy who couldn’t even win a duel, they pass over these tinier musicals.
You know who wins a duel? The lion king, that’s who.***
Here are the deets on the play The Lion King (and if you’ve watched the movie before, welp, I’m going to tell you this version anyways.)
The Lion King tells the tale of a complicated lion dynasty. The lions are played by people who just wear giant lion head hats to indicate that they are indeed lions. There are two brothers, Mufasa and Scar. Predictably, with a name like that, Mufasa is the more regal of the two. Scar is mad that he is an outcast and has no power. The hyenas are mad that the lions boss them around and make them live in the shittiest parts of the kingdom. So, Scar decides to make a bid for the kingdom and promises them equality. The musical paints this as a dark and ominous thing, with thunder and lightening punctuating his song while he declares his intentions (which leads me to believe the musical has been written by the same people who tweet about Donald Trump being America’s saviors.)
Mufasa has an annoying son named Simba, who has the kind of energy that makes you seriously consider getting your tubes tied. Scar kills Mufasa and tricks Simba into thinking he caused his father’s death. Guess it is now safe to assume that Scar might not have the best intentions.
Simba meets up with a warthog named Pumbaa and a meerkat named Timon, and manages to somehow fight his inner instincts and turn these two delicious meals into buddies. They sing a song, “Hakuna Matata,” that means “No Worries.” Hey, maybe that’d be a good tattoo idea! I bet no one has ever thought of it. Timon, unlike the rest of the cast, is actually a puppet attached to a man painted green, for reasons I couldn’t figure out.
But Simba’s childhood friend Nala shows up, telling him his kingdom has gone to shit and convinced him to come back and save them. “Remember who you are,” everyone keeps telling him. The Lion King really does not believe in a democracy, or a meritocracy, or anything of the sort.
I won’t spoil the ending for you, but I will tell you that this musical makes a strong case for a monarchy, in addition to providing lots of catchy songs, incredibly visually appealing set pieces, and eye-catching, elaborate costumes. Seriously, I applaud this small, unknown musical for making the most of its tiny budget to make such a mark on Broadway. Next time you’re trying to book tickets to Broadway’s biggest extravaganza, Hamilton, support theater’s smaller productions and buy tickets to The Lion King instead.
*****Also, let it be known that while Hamilton has all the heat right now, The Lion King has made more money than any other piece of media in history. It surpassed that mark in 2014 by making $6.2 billion — and that was two years ago! I’d like to see Hamilton try to win this duel too!