During a set visit to The Lion King, we learned the significance of the Broadway show to the latest interpretation of Simba’s (Donald Glover) tale. Everyone remembers the animated Disney classic when discussing this year’s upcoming remake, but few remember it’s also a highly acclaimed, Tony award-winning stage play. As much as director Jon Favreau plans to honor the original film, it seems he’s also looking to the musical for guidance.
While sharing thoughts on the creation process, including a peek into how the animation and visual effects departments combined actor performances and animal references to draft their photorealistic characters, Favreau discussed how the stage production affected his approach. “I think we learned a lot from the stage show, because the stage show was going from cartoons to real people and real music and real voices,” the director explained. “I think our casting was definitely informed by that.”
He considered more than the casting in light of the Broadway production, such as the need to offer a twist on an old story through a new and innovative medium. In particular, the director pointed to the importance of music in The Lion King, which originated in the animated film and was amplified on stage. According to him, composers Hans Zimmer and Elton John “really [explored] further what the roots of the music are” in the stage play.
“There’s just such a tremendous emotional power and spiritual impact you hear in the choir singing, and there’s something that feels very, very ancient and powerful to it,” the director said, pointing to the compelling opening number of the Broadway show. “Hans and Elton John and the whole team somehow tapped into this wonderful thing that when you hear it, as long as you have the sun coming up and you hear that first note, I’m already leaning forward.”
Working with Zimmer once more on The Lion King means that the newest version will transition from the original’s digital instruments to more of the live ones from the stage. In this way, the film offers another sense of continuity. Favreau spoke about that topic, as well, saying, “We’re all in the team Lion King as it crosses multiple platforms. To be able to draw upon all that experience and all that talent and then get that to add impact to it.”
The aim to marry the best of both previous iterations in a version that will honor the past while looking towards the future is an ambitious one, but we’re sure Disney will succeed. Let us know in the comments below and stay tuned to Screen Rant for more Lion King coverage.
- The Lion King (2019) release date: Jul 19, 2019