Here’s a secret: whenever I feel down, I watch the Helpmann Awards performance of The Lion King‘s “Circle of Life.” It’s one of my favorite renditions of the songs and I get a little teary-eyed everytime I watch it. Here’s what I’m talking about:
There’s just something about the song that’s so “big” and reminds you that you’re part of, well, the circle of life. And each time I watch it, I imagine how glorious it would be to watch the musical in person. Now I can because The Lion King is opening in Manila this week!
The Lion King in Manila is a milestone for the musical because it’s going to be the first stop of its first-ever international tour. And get this, the cast will be here from March 18 to May 6!
If you’ve been living under a (Pride) rock, The Lion King is a Disney film released in 1994. It tells the story of young Simba, a cub who runs into exile after the murder of his father, the king Mufasa. It has become so successful that it won two Academy Awards and was adapted into a musical in 1997.
The musical is just as successful, becoming the third longest-running show on Broadway with more than 8,000 performances and more than 70 international awards, including six Tony Awards in 1998: Best Musical, Direction, Choreography, Scenic Design, Costume Design, and Lighting Design.
The Lion King is pulling out all the stops for their Manila run and I know this because I was invited to their open rehearsal, where I got to hang out with the cast and watch them perform “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and “Circle of Life.” It was so beautiful that I was crying while recording the videos above.
For the Manila tour, Calvyn Grandling will be portraying the role of Simba and he will be joined by Noxolo Dlamini as Nala (first photo); Mthokozisi Emkay Khanyile as Mufasa, Antony Lawrence as Scar, Ntsepa Pitjeng as Rafiki (second photo); and Jamie McGregor as Timon, Pierre van Heerden as Pumbaa, and Andrew Jewson as Zazu.
In keeping with the show’s spirit of authenticity, there are many South African actors in the company, including 17 other nationals (there are a total of 51 cast members and a total of 134 people in the daily production).
They will be joined by six young Filipino actors who will alternately portray the young Simba and Nala. They will be: Julien Joshua M. Dolor Jr., Gabriel P. Tiongson, and Omar Sharief L. Uddin as young Simba, and Sheena Kirsten Bentoy, Uma Naomi Martin and Felicity Kyle Napuli as young Nala. And if you watched the two videos above, you can see how amazing they all are.
The costumes and props are just as beautiful. Show director and costume designer Julie Taymor, puppet designer Michael Curry, and stage designer Richard Hudson designed a universe with influences from around the world, including Balinese puppetry and African music and mask-making. And there are 200 puppets in the show!
I have so many memories of watching The Lion King as a kid on VHS, then watching clips of the musical as a showtune-loving queen. I can’t wait to finally see this show and become part of the circle of life!
This story is in partnership with Concertus Manila. The Lion King in Manila will be staged at The Theatre at Solaire. Tickets are on sale at www.ticketworld.com.ph. The show is a collaboration between Concertus, the Michael Cassel Group, and Disney Theatrical Productions. For more information, follow the show’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.