THE LION KING. As The Lion King musical returns to the Mogador Theater in Paris, we take a look at the differences between the musical and the original Disney animated film.
The Lion King is immortal, timeless. Back at the Mogador Theater in Paris since November 2021, the musical comedy based on the Disney cartoon seduces young and old until (at least) next July. The Lion King, which hit the big screen in 1994, remains one of Disney’s most popular films three decades later. Turning it into a musical means taking on the challenge of turning this cult cartoon into a show fit for the boards. A challenge tackled by Julie Taymor, an American director who had the difficult task of adapting the film from the Disney studios for the cinema panels.
Winning bet: played from 2007 to 2010, already at the Mogador Theater, The Lion King had attracted 1.5 million viewers and won three Molières: Best Musical, Best Costumes and Best Lighting. After the musical conquered New York, it was played all over the world, from Tokyo to Mexico City via Seoul, Sydney, London or Hamburg. In total, the show’s 25 productions were seen by more than 100 million viewers.
When success seems total, we asked ourselves the differences between the original animated feature and its musical comedy adaptation. For this purpose, Linternaute.com was able to interview Véronique Bandelier, resident director of the show at the Mogador Theater. here is The seven differences In between The Lion King in the film and its musical version.
The first difference is obvious to the viewer of the musical The Lion King from the first seconds of the show: Rafiki is a woman! Near the Mandrill, this somewhat disturbed old monkey who lives in a baobab tree accompanies Simba, the hero of the story, on his life’s journey. In Mogador, the role is played by South African singer Ntsepa Pitjeng-Molebatsi.
But why did Rafiki become a woman on stage? The idea came from Julie Taymor, the original director of the musical version of The Lion King. “As Julie Taymor was contacted when she saw it The Lion Kingshe felt that the female characters in the film were underrepresented. So she wanted to give them a different value,” Véronique Bandelier, resident director of The Lion King at the Mogador Theater, tells Linternaute.com.
“The character of Rafiki, who is usually the wonderful monkey shaman, changes gender and becomes the show’s strongest female and spiritual presence (…) this Rafiki, she has a double play in the show: she is a storyteller of the story and she is active in history. She’s a big influence, she’s with Nala, with Simba… She’s a spiritual leader,” she adds, referring to Rafiki’s reference to the sangoma, female South African shamans.
In addition to the character Rafiki, who reinforces the female presence in the musical, the Lion King, Julie Taymor wanted to add depth to another of the story’s protagonists, who is somewhat lacking in the animated version: Nala. In the original Disney version, the role of the young lioness is limited to helping Simba, the only hero in the story with whom she will end her life.
“In the film she is looking for food, there she goes into exile, not knowing where she is going, but she tells herself that she had to go,” explains Véronique Bandelier. Julie Taymor “really worked on this character to give her something more rebellious, it’s not just a woman that’s there and suffering. In the wild, it is the lionesses who hunt, who are very active. The human character is she making the decision to leave to find a solution, leaving her family to go into the unknown. It refers to the human world, but also to the animal world. Because she really leaves all consciousness somewhere else, in unknown places. That shows his courage,” adds the resident director.
Another big difference between the Disney cartoon and its stage adaptation: Scar’s depth. From a classic villain in the original film, Mufasa’s brother becomes a broken, tormented, manipulative…but sentimental animal in the musical. “It’s one of the most important things for Julie Taymor when she saw the cartoon: she says that the challenge was to be able to show things on stage that we can’t show on film,” emphasizes Véronique Bandelier. It’s also different developing these characters.”
In the musical, at the Mogador Theater as in its other versions, “we see their shenanigans, their manipulations (…) there is a very Shakespearean dimension to the way Julie Taymor has to treat the story, especially with the madness of scar that is beginning to arrive and that we can detail with the theater.
In the original Disney version, Simba is the story’s only hero: a young lion cub who is driven into exile after the death of his father, whom he believes he killed, before returning and saving the land of the lions. But in the musical version, his character is also much deeper and is no longer the only hero in the story. “Simba has to find his place, so he goes through different trials. He has more bite, more rebellion than the cartoon. He has something more assertive,” emphasizes Véronique Bandelier.
Zazu, the royal butler to Mufasa and then Simba, also had a smash hit in the 1994 Disney adaptation. On stage we find an actor and puppet portraying this orderly bird but endowed with a cynical sense of humour. On stage, the character of Zazu borrows elements of modern language, making him utterly timeless. “We bring these characters to life in the spirit of the times,” says Véronique Bandelier.
Enter to sing the song Let go cartoon snow queen or speaking to King Mufasa on Twitter (see video in article header), the butler has never looked so modern. It retains its biting humor and accompanies the characters of Simba and Nala despite the hardships.
In 2007, during the first version of the Lion King At the Mogador Theater in Paris, the lyrics of the cartoon’s iconic songs had been changed. “The four songs from the film are included [présentes dans le spectacle], we decided to use the words of the cartoon. They’re adapted for cinema, but they’re so much in the collective unconscious that it’s become a reference. And we feel that the audience recognizes the lyrics and suddenly it’s interesting to make the connection between this cartoon that people must have seen some time ago and its theatrical, livelier transcription on stage,” explains Véronique Bandelier .
Also note the presence of a live orchestra on stage in Mogador: “a real difference” for the resident director, who also notes the addition of “Zulu choirs”, “African rhythms” and “choreographic elements”. Also present on the show are “eight South African artists who vibrate this particular color of Africa”. So many contributions that add to the magic of the show, which at this point is completely different from the 1994 animated series.
Last big difference to the stage adaptation of the Lion King, the incarnation of animals by the show’s 49 artists. To do this, Julia Taymor imagined a series of puppets, masks and costumes depicting various animals of the savannah. “The characters are human and animal at the same time. And so Julie Taymor really wanted to use the codes of theater, old theater techniques. We will always see the dancer and his animal, the actor and his puppet…” explains Veronique Bandelier.
And to add: “She really wants to show what she calls the ‘double event’ that we can see the human and the animal. This allows the actor to put all the emotions in his character that hides the other. It gives the actors a huge variety of actors to choose from to express the animal, thoughtful, manipulative side for Scar for example, very lively for Timon or good-natured for Pumba. It’s fabulous for actors.”
And the magic happens.
All information about The Lion King at the Mogador Theater
“It is the story of life”. 14 years after his first visit to Paris, the musical The Lion King is back at the Mogador Theater from November 6, 2021 to July 31, 2022. The show is directly inspired by the most famous Disney cartoon from 1994 and features its iconic characters Simba, Nala, Rafiki, Mufasa, but also the terrible Scar and the troublemakers Zazu, Timon and Pumba. Fabulous costumes, gigantic paintings, well-known and recognized songs, dozens of animals and a live orchestra… The Lion King wants to seduce young and old alike.
musical figures The Lion King make you dizzy: 49 artists, 11 musicians, 80 technicians, 200 masks, 200 puppets… For this new version at the Mogador Theater directed by Julie Taymor, the production of Stage Entertainment has lifted the veil a few months before the casting premiere the show:
- Rafiki : Ntsepa PITJENG
- Mufasa : Noah NDEMA
- scar : Olivier BREITMANN
- simba : Gwendal MARIMOUTOU
- well : Cylia
- Zazu : Sebastien PEREZ
- tiller : Alexandre FAITROUNI
- Pumbaa : Rodrigue GALIO
- Shenzi : Terja DIAVA
- banzaiScar lining: Abdel-Rahym MADI
- EdZazu & Timon Lining: Sébastien VALTER
- Sarabi : Rachel VALERY
- child simba : William BOULAY-ITELA, Martin D’ARAM DE VALADA, Ethan DARSOULANT, Esteban HERNANDEZ SANCHEZ, Aristote LAIOS, Idrissa SOUMARE and Naïley TEMBELY-LAIDET.
- Nala child : Lyka BA, Mee-Naïdhy FAUBERT, Ambre MARCUSSY, Mélissa MASUNGI, Ilona SAMASSI, Marion TAKAM and Ilyana ZAOUAK.
The tickets for The Lion King at the Mogador Theater are available at all the usual points of sale such as La Fnac, Ticketac or Billetréduc, but also on the premises of the Parisian performance hall. Calculate the price of the seats between 25 euros in category 4 to 110 euros in the gold square on Saturday evening (90 euros during the week).