I adore The Lion King. It has been my favourite Disney movie ever since I was a little girl. I vividly remember watching it over and over again; crying when Mufasa dies; laughing at the humorous duo, Timon and Pumba; and crying (with happiness) once again when Simba defeats the evil Scar and takes his rightful place as King. A couple months ago, at 22, I finally got to see the live production. In so many ways, it met my high expectations. So many people have raved to me about it. Mufasa's performance of 'He Lives in You' was especially heart-warming and the woman that played Rafiki was incredible. In spite of being in the role for over ten years, as I've heard, her excitement and enthusiasm in the part was infectious. In spite of being a tremendous fan, nevertheless, there were a few niggling things that couldn't escape my attention.
1. Mufasa taking his mask off.
My sister and I watched this production in the Grand Circle area (located at the back) and we both agreed that the set, costumes and masks were beautifully created, and the dancers' and actors facial and movement expression was exquisite (I'm sure it would have seemed even more so, if we'd been sat closer). Something I did not like or understand however was Mufasa taking his mask off to teach Simba about the stars. There could be symbolism in this, perhaps an implication of his the gently humanity beneath his fierce regal strength, I don't know. On the face of it, it just looks like he's taking it off to give himself a break.
2. Simba and Nala having no masks.
These child actors were brilliant. While the boy playing young Simba did a great job of capturing the energy and zest for life that the character has in the film, the girl playing Nala was equally as effective at capturing her character's sincerity and sassy disposition. But why did these characters have no masks? To me, this seemed like poor innovation. Depicting these characters without masks, as people, essentially, when the rest of the cast of lions wear lion masks, shatters the whole story of them being lions. Again, this seems like an attempt at innovation. Perhaps, as cubs, they haven't earned their masks, their lion-hood? Who knows. On the surface it makes no sense anyhow.
3. The overpriced merchandise.
For a production that makes millions every year, is ridiculously overpriced merchandise really necessary? Not really. Disney is being a little greedy here.
4. The lionesses tears (streamers).
The tears, streamers, that came out of the lioness masks were effective and made for a convincing representation of mourning, but needed to be retractable. It was quite strange seeing them float around and tangle at the ends.
5. The grass scenes and birds on rods.
The dancers that depicted the long grass of the African savanna were beautiful to watch, but seemed a little pointless too. The over use of actors with birds on rods seemed a little silly, also, especially since this was an unnecessary distraction from the main performance.