It does not matter whether it’s the animation, musical or the live-action movie, one thing’s clear – The Lion King is one of the most heartwarming and captivating narratives. There’s something bewitching about the PrideLands and the “Circle of life” that’s irresistible.
With the 2019 live-action adaptation by Jon Favreau – featuring Beyoncé – capturing the attention of audiences, more and more people are buying Broadway tickets to witness Simba live on stage. The musical produced by Disney Theatrical Productions closely resembles the hit 1994 Disney animation, including some iconic notes by Tim Rice and Elton John – but not letter for letter.
Although all adaptations of “The Lion King” tell the same captivating story, they differ in several key areas that make each of them standalone delights. Below are some of the main differences between the original movie and the hit musical.
1. A Female Rafiki
You might remember Rafiki as a wise and mysterious male mandrill in the 1994 film. But when Julie Taymor was asked to direct the musical, she thought that the narrative lacked a strong female lead. The outcome was casting Buyi Zama as Rafiki.
2. Changes to the Narrative
While the general storyline is uniform across all adaptions of “The Lion King,” there are a few elements that differ. For example, there’s a scene in the musical whereby the hornbill, Zazu, and King Mufasa discuss the topic of parenting while the cheeky Meerkat, Timon nearly drowns in a waterfall. And it’s at this moment that Simba feels helpless.
3. New Songs
What is a Disney film or musical without catchy songs to keep the audiences singing merrily? Theatergoers might be delighted to learn that the stage adaption of “The Lion King” includes several new songs such as Shadowland by Rafiki and the lionesses to Nala, Morning Report by Zazu, Endless Night, and One by One.
4. Chinese Adaptation
As a global phenomenon,”The Lion King” has crossed borders all the way to China. The show’s run in the Asian country includes some songs being adapted to hit pop tunes, and an introductory interaction with the audience.