The Lion King Musical debuted in America, back in 1997. As a modern interpretation of Hamlet, this show captivates audiences world wide and I, finally, got to see the version in The Netherlands, in my native tongue.
The Lion King In London
A few years ago, I went to see the Lion King musical in London’s West End. It was a spur of the moment decision, during my visit to the city, so I went in completely blank. Of course, I was well aware of the movie, which helped, but nothing could’ve prepared me for what’s to come.
Despite details fading with time, I still remember the surprise, when actors came into the audience, as well as all the colors and people on stage. Also, I remember the actors and animals becoming one. So, I couldn’t wait to breathe new life into my memories, when I went to the Dutch version, recently.
Award Winning Lion King
So, expectations were high. Simba may be the king of his animal kingdom, his show is king of all musicals. Just a few days before the show, the Dutch version won the award for best musical, second year in a row.
So Many Details
I got the impression that the theater in The Hague was smaller than the theater I visited in London. The production seemed a little bit downsized, but no less energetic or impressive. The theater was completely taken over by actors looking just like animals. Within no-time, the stage brightened up with colorful outfits, dance and song.
Animal x Actor
I remember being somewhat confused about the costumes in London. Some characters use both the animal heads and their own faces to communicate with. I didn’t know what to watch. Prior to seeing the Dutch version, I’d seen an interview with the musical’s original art director. She explained how they came up with the extension of an actor into their animal character, via use of the costumes. Or rather, costumes meet props with the addition of make up. It’s all just clever. I agree with her for her intent. It contributes to giving this musical an artsy touch.
Knowing the story, ahead of coming, really helps, even though it was easy to follow. Scenes like the stampede are cleverly solved to work on stage. I have to admit, I love theater for the very fact that they are able to make so much work on-stage, just by moving elements in the decor. It all oozes creative thinking from the cast and creatives. But, you as a viewer, can fill in blanks with your imagination.
There were many amazing parts in the show that touched me, like the Simba’s solo song about him missing his father, the comic scenes of Pumba and Timon. I thought Disney was always so strict about how everything should stay close to the original, but I’m glad Zazu got to refer to some typical Dutch trends. It gives it something special. Mostly, we were impressed by Thandazile Soni, the actress who played Rafiki. What an amazing voice. Chances are that I saw her in London too, as she was part of the cast there too, for several years. Definitely a musical worth checking out.