As a rule, the tradition of the Disney animated family pictures dictates that the plot of the show or movie should be based on a fairytale; this is how the company has marketed its products since its very beginning. However, there is a product that stands out of the line of Disney fairytale adaptations. Based loosely on Shakespeare’s Hamlet (“Prince of Denmark, and the film shadows this work so closely, that parallels between the main characters themselves are wildly apparent” (McElven para. 2)), the movie spawned the show that has been staged countless numbers of times in different theaters. The Boston Opera House staging, which is one of the recent adaptations of the famous story, introduced its rendition of the story, which has become timeless classics over the past seventeen years, both retaining the key characteristics of the original and introducing new and unique features into the well-known story.
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Following the existing tradition of storytelling, the musical represented a typical three-act storytelling. At the beginning, the key exposition details are provided in a very subtle manner; the song that the musical opens with is a send-back to the first animated movie. The singers rendered the song that is already viewed as the Disney heritage in a very skillful manner. As the setting revealed the famous mountain, the family of lions represented their cub and the heir to the “throne” to the pride.
Almost immediately after the ceremony, the main villain and the key antagonist of the lead character, Uncle Scar, the brother of King Mufasa and the uncle of the newborn lion, Simba, was revealed. Exposing his sorrow for losing an opportunity to be the king, treacherous Scar starts plotting the murder of his brother. Meanwhile, young price Simba learns what the nature of the king’s duties is and how important it is to maintain balance between every single element in the kingdom. Thus, Simba learns that the life of every creature is important, as even the smallest ones contribute to creating the great circle of life, which the narrator sung about earlier.
However, the boisterous nature of the young prince takes its toll, and he nearly gets into a trap set by Scar and his henchmen hyenas. Eventually, Scar manages to kill Mufasa and makes Simba leave the kingdom by making the prince believe that he was to blame for his father’s death. Scar returns to the Pride Lands to declare the death of Mufasa and Simba and claim the throne.
As Simba escapes the pride land, the setting changes drastically, and the yellow-and-orange colors of the Pride Land are switched with the green landscape of the African savanna. Simba comes across a warthog named Pumbaa and a meerkat named Timon; the two befriend Simba and tech him that he should learn to leave the past behind him. Therefore, Simba is not haunted by his tragic past anymore and enjoys life with his new friends, who sing a joyful song called Hakuna Matata, which literally means “no worries.” Simba spends quite large amount of time with his new friend, growing into an adult and forgetting nearly everything about the Pride Lands and his family.
However, by a stroke of luck, he comes across a lioness called Nala, his childhood friend, who tells him that Scar has seized power over the pride Lands and basically destroyed everything to the point where lionesses have to starve. She asks him to return home, yet Simba, still under the false impression of murdering his own father, refuses to leave. The interaction between the two characters occurs with an unearthly beautiful musical number called Can You Feel the Love Tonight.
The third act unwraps as, after understanding that he needs to reconcile with his past instead of running away from it, Simba returns to the Pride Lands, Timon and Pumbaa coming along with him. The setting changes from the bright and colorful images of savanna to the dark and gloomy remnants of the Pride Land. Simba searches for Scar to dispute his right to be the heir and, therefore, confronts his fear of disclosing his secret, i.e., his presumable fault in Mufasa’s death. However, as Scar and Simba start fighting, the former tells Simba the truth in anticipation of the latter’s death and as an attempt to gloat. Simba, therefore, finds the way to fight back and overthrows Scar, becoming the new king. The musical ends with Simba’s “coronation” and his acceptance of his duties and responsibilities as a king.
Being another interpretation of Disney’s The Lion King, the musical staged in the Boston Opera House, nevertheless, represented an original approach towards the famous story of the Hamlet-like heir to the throne. Being one of the most memorable performances of the year, the staged performance incorporated a very detailed reiteration of the key scenes that the movie and the traditional musical included, yet added a unique flair to each of these scenes, therefore, making them memorable and very relatable.
McElven, Trey. “Hamlet and The Lion King: Shakespearean Influences on Modern Entertainment.” Lion King. n. d. Web.