Hakuna Matata! An iconic musical is born (1997)

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Written by: 360.org

Monday, 13 November 2017

1997 -

Today in 1997 was the first day Elton John’s song ‘Hakuna Matata’ echoed through the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York City. Disney’s Lion King had its premiere on November 13, 1997. It would become one of the longest running theatre productions on Broadway maybe the most popular musical to be performed on stages around the world.

Instant classics
The musical is based on the 1994 Disney movie with the same name, telling the tale of lion cub Simba discovering the world and becoming the rightful ‘King of Pride rock’. The musical, directed by Julie Taymor, was played by actors in animal costumes. Songs like ‘Hakuna Matata’ and ‘The circle of life’ written by Elton John and Tim Rice became instant classics.

Timon, Pumba and Rafiki
Simba, his father Mustafa and evil Uncle Scar are the main characters, but this musical produced much more popular creatures. Timon the meerkat and Pumba the warthog are very much loved. The opening scene with Rafiki the mandrill, presenting the new born cub at the top of the rock, high above his head became iconic and is still re-enacted around the world, often accompanied by some peculiar version of the openings lyrics, which are actually: ‘Nants ingonyama bagithi baba’, meaning ‘Here comes a lion, Father’ in Zulu.

360 trivial fact
Figures don’t lie. The production earned 70 major musical awards, was performed in 24 different countries and attracted more than 90 million audience members around the world.



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