El Rey Leon – ¿Lost in Translation?

El Rey Leon

El Rey Leon


The students saw El Rey Leon (aka The Lion King) this past Friday.  Here are excerpts from some of their reviews:


“Desde el momento en que el telón se abrió y el escenario se iluminó, yo sabía que El rey león iba a ser una gran producción. Inmediatamente cuando el “mono” comenzó a presentar el programa, me di cuenta de que iba a ser un desafío entender. Siempre me era bastante fácil comprender el español comparado con usarlo oralmente. Sin embargo, durante la presentación teatral, empecé a cuestionar esa habilidad.

In translation, from the moment the curtains opened and the stage lit up, I knew the Lion King was going to be a grand production. When the “monkey” began to introduce the show, I recognized that we were all in for a challenge; a challenge similar to those non Spanish speakers attempting to read and comprehend my first paragraph. While for most of my life I have claimed to be a better at understanding than speaking the Spanish language, I was certainly tested.

The fast pace of the show, from the elaborate set changes to the rapid conversations, left me catching just enough phrases to keep up with the storyline. As a seventeen year old who has neither read the children’s story nor watched the movie, I was at an even greater disadvantage. However, the complex costumes and well-rehearsed body language certainly allows for anyone to follow along. The most impressive and realistic characters in the show (which is certainly why they appeared first) were the giraffes. The actors inclined to a 45 degree angle with the help of stilts as extended arms. The costume was so well constructed from head to tail that when the light beamed against the giraffes, their shadow against the wall of the stage could have been mistaken for a live animal. However, even this description, does not do the costume justice.

The birds were also creatively transformed from real life to theater.  Strong men carried long flexible poles with variously colored bird attached. As the men twirled the poles, it looked as though they were flying around stage and even over the audience. And although we were seated practically the farthest from the stage, the birds and the rest of the cast, still affected the entire audience, even giving some chills.

At the start of the play, a “sun” lifted from the floor of the stage and into the air mimicking a sunrise. As the play progressed, the sunset, moonrise, and sunrise again, not only created beautiful scenes, but also carried the audience through eventful days and nights. In fact, I appreciated the clever and chronological arrangement of the play, making us feel as though we are taking the journey to the thrown together.

Although the extravagant costumes, lively performances, and breathtaking sets certainly helped to understand the show, I still found myself lost in translation. However, the themes of the play were easily attained and “Hakuna Matata,” meaning no worries, has been replaying through my head ever since.” – Jackie Lash


A major part of the play was the music which added a lot to the overall performance and kept the show moving. As a first-timer to El rey león, one could think that there was a recording playing a soundtrack, however the musicality was very professional and indeed all the sound was live. There was a full orchestra in the pit and two percussion sections on both sides of the stage.The two people on both sides were directing some of the sound and playing various percussion instruments such as bongos and bass drums. Everyone in the cast was singing whether on stage or not. I was not expecting so much live music, but being a musician it was intriguing to hear the production’s songs with a Spanish fusion. One thing I did not enjoy was in certain parts of the play the singing was too loud when the whole cast was on stage, even sitting at a distance causing the show not to be as enjoyable. Nevertheless, to see actors sing and dance at the same time so well was remarkable. To be able to concentrate on both parts, displays aptitude.

A scene that captures one’s eye is when Simba, now older, is running in a stampede. The visual effects played a major role here, as it looked like the cast was not just running in place, but really running away. The lighting and different props such as the sun which made a reflection like glass and the water that looked like it was being vacuumed away had a very existent appearance. One could say, “I’ve been to Africa in a theater!”

Overall, El rey león  was a show that allured the audience with many aspects. From elaborate costume design to strong vocalists, the all ages audience got the full effect. After twenty years, the story and its legacy still lives on. ”  – Melissa Benedek



“As a non-native Spanish speaker, I had some concerns going into the play. I was worried I would get bored, not understand and even fall asleep. However, I was happy to be proven wrong. Though the play was difficult for me to understand, I still managed to follow the chronology of the show. That may be because I had seen the movie a couple times. As the actors sang in Spanish, I found it very difficult to understand. However, when speaking, I felt I could understand more clearly. The dancing and singing made the language barrier irrelevant. It was emotional to watch the actors dance across the stage in front of the amazing sets that decorated the stage. The acting went above and beyond what I expected, which made up for any language barrier presented.” – Margaux Walker




“The actors playing Rafiki, Simba, Timon, Pumba, Mufasa, and Nala all had amazing voices. Rafiki’s voice is the one that stood out more than the others, in my opinion, because when the actor began to sing, the whole theatre was engulfed by her voice. Every note was in tune and she had so much energy that it was contagious.

The only song that did not meet my standards, was I Just Can’t Wait To Be King; which happens to be one of my favorite songs. During most of the song the two lion cubs sat on ostriches and no other animals came in until three fourths of the song where done. I had expected a lot a lights and a lot of animals coming in to dance with Simba and Nala.

The dancers in the play where absolutely stunning. The dancers all danced in rhythm and insinked. The choreography was very well detailed and went along with the songs perfectly. For example, For Be Prepared,  the hyenas came out and danced along to Scar singing. Some of them were up on stairs and others were on the ground dancing around geysers. The dance was dark but also powerful, resembling the wrath of Scar.

All-together the play was fantastic. It had a great cast, impressive special effects and props, and breathtaking choreography. I highly recommend this play for kids, teens, and adults.” – Rebecca Fulford