I saw the Lion King the Musical for the first time in Tokyo.
The Lion King is originally an animation film published by Disney in 1994. It was revised into a musical play by Disney in 1997. In Japan, Shiki Theatre Company, a famous theatrical group produces the work. Shiki also plays "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Cats." The Lion King by Shiki has overcome the longrun record of Cats in Japan.
In the Lion King, Simba, a son of Mufasa, the lion king, takes a role of the main hero. He was brave, but reckless and rather egoistic child. One day, he was deceived by Scar, the brother of Mufasa, leading to the death of Mufasa. Simba was encouraged to leave the lion kingdom. Scar successfully replaced the Mufasa’s throne. But he failed to manage the power balance between lions and hyenas, making the kingdom dilapidated. Simba heard the situation of the kingdom, and after hesitation, he came back to the kingdom to defeat Scar.
In this musical, several animals such as lions, hyenas, birds, giraffes and so on, appear. All of them are played by a human. Many gimmicks are utilized to describe various animals in the jungle. In a key scene, a trampling group of gnus is dynamically expressed. I was fascinated to this direction.
In some music numbers, the Swahili language is used. Several African instruments are adopted to compose the music. You can feel the mystic atmosphere as if you are standing in the field in Africa through the scenes.
On the other hand, I felt the storyline not so attractive. It is said that the writer referred Hamlet by Shakespeare in considering the story of Lion King. It is not surprising itself. However, the plot is too mimicking traditional fairytales.
I was rather sympathetic to Scar. He seems to be always compared to Mufasa by his father. In the musical, he was described as having a disability in his waist. It may be a cause of being discriminated. Scar was willing to make a treaty with hyenas, different from Mufasa deeming hyenas as degrading creatures. Despite his intention to utilize hyena for usurping the King’s seat, Scar looked having a liberal ideology. But he failed to integrated the hyenas' culture into lions'. Simba finally exiled hyena family from the kingdom. I am afraid that such an exclusive idea of Mufasa will be realized in the real world, to be honest.
In the climax, Scar disclosed that he was responsible for the death of Mufasa. Knowing this fact, Simba got raged, to revenge Scar. It looked a little strange. Scar was so deliberate that he had never told the truth for several years since killing Mufasa. I hardly understand why he was so imprudent at the scene.
In spite of these flaws, I enjoyed the Lion King completely. Someday, I would like to the original film, and see the musical again.