While NYC is home to many types of entertainment, one in particular is musical theatre.
Musical theatre is the form of theatre combining songs, acting, dance, and spoken dialogue.
A form of musical theatre currently on Broadway that embodies these skills in copious forms is Disney’s The Lion King.
While the story, based on the Disney film, is undoubtedly familiar to many, the art that occurs in New York theaters may be foreign to some. An extensive amount of dexterity is incorporated into every aspect of the show.
While every actor in the production is undoubtedly talented, two particular actors who cannot be ignored are the young starlets who play Simba and his sidekick Nala, played by 11-year-old Abrey Omari Joseph and 10-year-old Khaail Toi Bryant, respectively.
In addition to having to complete the basic singing, dancing, memorizing, and acting requirements expected from Broadway leads, the starlets must learn to manage the responsibilities and risks of being in the spotlight, while juggling the developmental challenges associated with the preteen years.
Also, the collaboration of other actors’ singing, acting and dancing and catchy African rhythms and their unforgettable exotic costumes — all made of an array of warm colors — contribute to the reasons why The Lion King won six Tony Awards in 1998.
An element of the show that immediately appeals to viewers is the music written by Elton John and Tom Rice. In theatre, each musical piece is essential for helping the storyline progress in an engaging and original manner.
Because the song’s theme is the celebration of a new life, there are likely feelings of awe, hope and empathy pervading from audience members upon the chanting of the lyrics.
The musical is also an allegory of the hierarchy of society. All of the various members of the African wildlife community, the giraffes, antelopes, cheetah, zebra, white birds, antelopes and elephants, set aside their present activities to gather together beneath Pride Rock where the new king is present, and display their honor by bowing as young Simba is presented over the community.
Other songs, such as the well-known “Hakuna Matata,” (which means ‘there are no worries’ in Swahili) and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” evoke identifiable feelings such as merriment, humor, sentiment, and passion.
A final aesthetic aspect of the performance that is universal among audience members is the visual satisfaction the musical provides.
The play’s opening includes a rainbow colored, face-painted Rafiki, a sunrise over an orange and purple lit background, giraffes represented by humans on long stilts, synchronized ballet dancing lions, antelopes, birds and zebras, and humans depicting grass rising from the stage.
Later, audience members are rendered speechless by large expressive puppets, mechanically controlled cheetahs and elephants, intricately designed masks for each lion character, and colorful costumes consisting of African styled beadwork, corsets, armor and cloth.
New York City is home to all forms of entertainment, but for anyone wanting to experience a great musical, The Lion King is a recommended investment.