Today is the 20th anniversary of the opening of “The Lion King.” Now the third-longest running show in the history of Broadway, the musical is worth celebrating.
Based on the 1994 Disney animated film about the coming-of-age of a young lion in the African jungle, this musical offers African-inflected music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice and the visual magic of Julie Taymor. Taymor is the director, and composer and lyricist for some of the songs. But above all, she is the designer of the costumes, masks, and puppets. The cast consists of more than 300 puppets, which took more than 37,000 hours to construct, including rod puppets, shadow puppets, and full sized. It is these visuals that make this show a good first theatrical experience — and worthwhile for any theatergoer no matter how experienced.
Plot: “Lion cub prince Simba grows up in the African heartland until tragedy forces him to run away. He ultimately learns to take his rightful place in the animal kingdom.”