Questions, Comments, Concerns: The Lion King feat. Beyonce

Welcome back to Questions, Comments, Concerns, a feature we usually reserve for Lifetime movies we’ve seen instead of Disney movies we haven’t. Ready?

Comment: NAAAAANTS ingonyamaAAAAA.

That feels better.

[Thing REAL 90s kids will remember: Having made-up nonsense that you thought were the real Lion King lyrics for decades. I’ll admit it. I did think it was Naaaaa S’ven’yahhh for a long time. And I do have a friend who thought the part a little later in the song was ‘Pink Pajamas Penguins On The Bottom.’]

Comment: I want to go to a mountaintop and triumphantly raise this cast listing into the air in front of awed wildlife.
Question: Can we get more Adult Nala?

It’s Beyonce, and doesn’t it feel like Adult Nala doesn’t get to do much except playfully wrestle near a waterfall and make bedroom eyes at Simba? The point is I want a new song.

Concern: I hope the new songs are good.

I want a new song, but I want it to be really good and fit in well with the Lion King vibe. I’m sure it will, because they need a new number for Oscar eligibility, anyway.

Comment: Good on them for keeping James Earl Jones as Mufasa.

Can you imagine anybody else as Mufasa?

Question: But can we get some more of the original cast back, too?

What I’m saying is, I want JTT to have a cameo as a zebra or flamingo or whatever.

Comment: These children are amazing!

When we tweeted Hairspray Live, I remember commenting that Shahadi Wright Joseph has the world in her pocket. In addition to Hairspray, she has appeared in the OBC of School of Rock and was the youngest Broadway Nala in, you guessed it, The Lion King. Kid’s going places fast.

As for JD McCrary, this isn’t his first collab with Donald Glover. He’s the kid on Childish Gambino’s Terrified and has racked up a nice number of TV credits. He also does a more-than-good M.J.:

Question: How would a live-action Lion King work??

Short answer: it’s not really live-action. I’m sure I’m not the only person who was super-confused on this point. Like, humans in costumes a la the Broadway production? I love Julie Taymor, but that sounds distracting. Living animals? Bloodbath. After some searching, the answer is that it will be realistic CGI, like the Jungle Book remake that came out not too long ago.

Concern: I love that this is happening but I’m greedy and I also want all of these actors to appear together in a film where we actually get to see them.
Comment: LEADING MAN DONALD GLOVER.

We’re both longtime fans of both Donald Glover and his rap alter-ego Childish Gambino, and in the Beyonce of it all it took me a few hours to realize that Donald Glover is the lead in a major motion picture – with many more to come, if there’s any justice in the world.

Question: Who the heck is Kamari?

I can see that it’s Keegan Michael Key (love!) but I mean as a character, I have zero recall of ever seeing a Kamari.

Comment: Banzai and Ed are still up for grabs.

Whoever it is, it’s going to be good.

[Edit: I hear that Kamari and Azizi are the new Banzai and Ed? OK.]

Comment: THE PRESS TOUR.
Advertisements

Playlist Of The Month: Broadway Moments Of The Rosie O’Donnell Show

Whether it’s 1996 or 2016, Rosie O’Donnell is living our Broadway fangirl dreams. Last month we left Hamilton discussing how amazing it would be to be Rosie, who’s been something like 37 times and thus has seen every permutation of the cast. And as two musical-theater obsessed children, it’s hard to overstate how the Broadway moments of The Rosie O’Donnell Show molded our formative years. We saw an adult get as excited about new shows as we did, and just knowing that somebody else out there was playing and replaying cast albums was everything to us. To this day, our conversation about Everything’s Coming Up Rosie week included memories like “didn’t it seem like Fredi Walker was ALWAYS singing Seasons of Love on Rosie?” and “remember how much she loved Bring In Da Noise, Bring In Da Funk?”

Seasons Of Love from Rent

We were both Rent-heads (remember Everything Is Rent Week?), and the cast’s appearance on Rosie made an impression on us. So much so that we commented in Questions, Comments and Concerns: Rent, ” Seasons of Love is very obviously the song they included to be a breakout hit. Like, ‘okay, we need one song in a basic pop structure with no swearing or weird sex stuff in it so we can go on the Rosie show.'” And friendly reminder this is the OBC in the midst of Rentmania in 1996. Look at these babies whose lives are being changed.

Endless Night from The Lion King

The trajectory of musical theatre history is strewn with shows that changed Broadway. It didn’t start with Hamilton – there was a whole path from shows where the music had nothing to do with the plot, to songs that commented on it, to music that actually advanced the story. In the late 90s, The Lion King was another one of those shows changing Broadway by incorporating clever and elaborate costumes,  Garth Fagan’s modern choreography, and total smokeshow Jason Raize. Unfortunately, Jason’s talent was gone too soon after he hanged himself in 2004, but his Lion King legacy will live on forever.

Medley from Titanic

It’s easy to think this is something that would have happened as a result of the bizarre Titanic mania that struck in 1997-1998, but no: this musical predated the Titanic film, meaning that Titanic was kind of a topic of general interest in the 90s. This performance had me itching to see the Titanic musical, if only to find out how it sank on stage.

Willkommen from Cabaret

Caberet struck me as a “grown-up” musical in my Rosie days, but even at that age I couldn’t deny that Alan Cumming had a whole lot of charisma. Between rewatching this performance and picking up Alan’s memoir for some light bus reading a while ago, I have now become an unlikely Alan Cumming stan.

My New Philosophy from You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown

Adults playing kids are a weird thing. As an adult you can suspend disbelief when a grown-up plays a child in theater or on SNL, but as a kid you’re like “nope, that is 100% NOT a child, good try.” Or if you were me as a child, also “here’s my headshot, give me a job instead of this faker.” That would have been my reaction to You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown… EXCEPT for Kristin Chenoweth. I remember watching this and taking a while to decide whether this was an adult or not. Part of it is that Kristin is tiny, but it’s also how well she conveys the attitude and mannerisms of a 5-year-old.

Wheels of a Dream from Ragtime

Part of the brilliance of Rosie putting shows on a national platform is that people like us in Western New York or all the way in Alaska get a chance to see Broadway or are even introduced to theater through TV. I remember watching this and loving it so much that I later went to the library to borrow the soundtrack. In high school, I specifically chose to write a book report on Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow because it was what the musical was based on. And I never would have done that if I hadn’t seen these two icons perform on Rosie. It reinforced by love for theatre and gave me a peek into a world I longed to be in.

Who Will Love Me As I Am? From Side Show

For some reason I also clearly remember this performance, mainly because I thought it was so weird there was an entire musical featuring conjoined twins. However, it’s a great performance and a great song, featuring a pre-Tony Alice Ripley who can belt in my fave any day.

Dancing Queen from Mamma Mia!

Fact: I’ve seen Mamma Mia! more times than I should have as a teen. One of those times I saw it on tour and attended a dance workshop where the cast members taught us the choreography for Waterloo, which is the final number after the curtain call. And then we saw the show and got in the aisles and did the choreo like a pre-flash mob flash mob. Anyways, I thought I wouldn’t like Mamma Mia! at all, but two years before my shining moment in the aisle this happened on Rosie and I was all in.

No One is Alone from Into the Woods

If you haven’t seen Into the Woods, it’s important you know that despite the characters all being from beloved fairytales like Rapunzel and Cinderella, this show, specifically the second act, is NOT a necessarily family friendly musical. Despite that, it’s still a fantastic show, and Sonheim nonetheless, so I am envious of everyone that got to see this revival on Broadway. Especially because it features our favorite queen of Broadway and social media, Laura Benanti as Cinderella. Also featured: Adam Wylie aka Jack (of the Beanstalk) aka Brad from Gilmore Girls. In GG, he takes a leave from Chilton, and when he returns, Paris is just as bitchy to him as ever, and even tries to knock him off his game by singing about his magic beans, because Paris.

All That Jazz from Chicago

DR. LILITH STERNIN SINGS ALL THAT JAZZ AND WINS AN EMMY. Reminder that we watched Cheers this year. This role won Bebe her second Tony Award and it’s obvious why. What a gem. And way less obnoxious than Lilith.

Goodbye Until Tomorrow from The Last Five Years

The Last Five Years is undoubtedly one of our favorite musicals, but as someone who didn’t get into it until the revival several years ago, I definitely forgot that it existed at all during the Rosie era. Whether it’s Cynthia Erivo breaking our hearts with Still Hurting or the original off-Broadway cast on Rosie, Jason Robert Brown always knows how to tug on our heartstrings so hard that he rips our hearts all the way out.

Gimme Gimme from Thoroughly Modern Millie

Before Sutton Foster was THE Sutton Foster, she was “this new actress you need to know about, Sutton Foster.” She created a huge splash in Thoroughly Modern Millie, and the first place I ever saw her was on The Rosie O’Donnell Show performing Gimme Gimme. If you told me that Sutton would still be a huge deal 18 years after this, I wouldn’t have been surprised. If you told me that Sutton would look maybe a week older 18 years later, that would have been harder to believe, but here we all are.

Last Night Of The World from Miss Saigon

Everything you need to know about us as friends and as individuals: as oddball fifth graders, we both really wanted to see Miss Saigon. Traci has a traumatic childhood memory of being left with basically strangers when her parents went to it without her, and Molly received tickets for her confirmation, a Catholic sacrament she celebrated at age 10. Weirdos. Fortunately, we BOTH caught OG Kim, Lea Salonga, on The Rosie O’Donnell Show during its convenient after-school time slot. On top of that, Chris was played by a young Will Chase, of Smash, Nashville, and Ingrid Michaelson’s boyfriend fame. What a dream.

 

Best of 2015: Hogwarts Goes Hollywood: Harry Potter Actors As Disney Characters

Is Harry Potter and Christmas synonymous for anyone else? Ok great. Earlier this year, Emma Watson nabbed the role of Belle in the live-action Beauty and the Beast, which has wrapped since then and also features all the actors. All of them. But what would happen if the deep bench of HP players also starred in Disney reboot movies? We took a look.

Disney and Harry Potter, the entertainment franchises that brought magic to our childhood (and, um, teens and 20s), are now at one. Emma Watson – Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies – will be playing Belle in a live-action version of Beauty And The Beast! Belle was always my favorite Disney princess because she liked books. I had the redhead solidarity thing with Ariel, but even at age five I was like “Ariel, girl, get a grip. You look desperate.” But I digress. The Harry Potter movies were full of amazing actors, and the Disney movies have a bunch of awesome characters. Emma Watson as Belle is a good start, but I think we could make this a regular thing:

Alfie Enoch as Prince Eric, The Little Mermaid

Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid needs to be so dreamy that a mermaid –  whose greatest joy is singing  – gives her voice to a sea-witch so that she can get legs and like… hang out with him silently in a rowboat. Sounds like an awesome date. See what I mean about Ariel? Anyway, when I think “Hogwarts Dreamboat,” I think Alfie Enoch.

Rupert Grint as John Smith, Pocahontas

Ron Weasley had a lot of strong points, but he was sort of a borderline bro sometimes. The Disney version of that is John Smith in Pocahontas. He’s an imperialist dumb-dumb, but he’s so dopey that you can’t really hate him. There’s that spark of goodness in Ron, too, so we know that Rupert could balance the character’s likability with his more annoying traits.

Tom Felton as Hans, Frozen

Oh, Draco. You loved to hate him. For the character to work, the actor had to convey enough smoothness so that you believe that all of his teachers don’t absolutely hate him. Likewise, Hans has to SEEM like a nice guy to enough people that you don’t spend the whole movie going “uh, this jerk.” Just as it takes a smart actor to play a dumb person, it takes a nice actor to play a mean person. I think Felton’s up to the task.

Evanna Lynch as Rapunzel, Tangled

Luna Lovegood is one of my favorite Harry Potter characters. In both the books and the movies, she’s got a few screws loose but she’s not a one-note joke of a person. She has real feelings and, even though she’s a bit of a whackadoo, she’s smart and brave. Disney-wise, this is Rapunzel from Tangled. She’s not a floaty, sweet gal like Snow White or Cinderella – she’s a weirdo who hangs out with a chameleon. Both characters aren’t socially … you know, off …. by accident – they both had childhoods that meant they couldn’t quite fit in.

Alan Rickman as Scar, The Lion King

I get that Alan Rickman is a human person, not a lion. But otherwise, he’s proven that he can play a creepy avuncular villain. (Or, not villain, but admit it, for a while you really thought so!) They could just use those weird costumes from the Broadway musical or whatever.

Whomping Willow as Grandmother Willow, Pocahontas

Stunt casting? Eh, maybe, but who else are they going to get?

Jessie Cave as Those Triplets Who Were All Up On Gaston, Beauty And The Beast

Lavender Brown WAS the Hogwarts version of those hussies who were Gaston fangirls. I know there’s only one of her but they have to make a humanoid monster and dancing cups, I’m sure they can turn one person into three people.

Julie Walters as Mrs. Potts, Beauty And The Beast

Molly Weasley IS Mrs. Potts.

Hogsmeade as Belle’s Quaint Village, Beauty And The Beast

Hogsmeade, UK and Poor Provincial Town, France clearly had the same city planners.

Hogwarts Goes Hollywood: Harry Potter Actors As Disney Characters

Disney and Harry Potter, the entertainment franchises that brought magic to our childhood (and, um, teens and 20s), are now at one. Emma Watson – Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies – will be playing Belle in a live-action version of Beauty And The Beast! Belle was always my favorite Disney princess because she liked books. I had the redhead solidarity thing with Ariel, but even at age five I was like “Ariel, girl, get a grip. You look desperate.” But I digress. The Harry Potter movies were full of amazing actors, and the Disney movies have a bunch of awesome characters. Emma Watson as Belle is a good start, but I think we could make this a regular thing:

Alfie Enoch as Prince Eric, The Little Mermaid

Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid needs to be so dreamy that a mermaid –  whose greatest joy is singing  – gives her voice to a sea-witch so that she can get legs and like… hang out with him silently in a rowboat. Sounds like an awesome date. See what I mean about Ariel? Anyway, when I think “Hogwarts Dreamboat,” I think Alfie Enoch.

Rupert Grint as John Smith, Pocahontas

Ron Weasley had a lot of strong points, but he was sort of a borderline bro sometimes. The Disney version of that is John Smith in Pocahontas. He’s an imperialist dumb-dumb, but he’s so dopey that you can’t really hate him. There’s that spark of goodness in Ron, too, so we know that Rupert could balance the character’s likability with his more annoying traits.

Tom Felton as Hans, Frozen

Oh, Draco. You loved to hate him. For the character to work, the actor had to convey enough smoothness so that you believe that all of his teachers don’t absolutely hate him. Likewise, Hans has to SEEM like a nice guy to enough people that you don’t spend the whole movie going “uh, this jerk.” Just as it takes a smart actor to play a dumb person, it takes a nice actor to play a mean person. I think Felton’s up to the task.

Evanna Lynch as Rapunzel, Tangled

Luna Lovegood is one of my favorite Harry Potter characters. In both the books and the movies, she’s got a few screws loose but she’s not a one-note joke of a person. She has real feelings and, even though she’s a bit of a whackadoo, she’s smart and brave. Disney-wise, this is Rapunzel from Tangled. She’s not a floaty, sweet gal like Snow White or Cinderella – she’s a weirdo who hangs out with a chameleon. Both characters aren’t socially … you know, off …. by accident – they both had childhoods that meant they couldn’t quite fit in.

Alan Rickman as Scar, The Lion King

I get that Alan Rickman is a human person, not a lion. But otherwise, he’s proven that he can play a creepy avuncular villain. (Or, not villain, but admit it, for a while you really thought so!) They could just use those weird costumes from the Broadway musical or whatever.

Whomping Willow as Grandmother Willow, Pocahontas

Stunt casting? Eh, maybe, but who else are they going to get?

Jessie Cave as Those Triplets Who Were All Up On Gaston, Beauty And The Beast

Lavender Brown WAS the Hogwarts version of those hussies who were Gaston fangirls. I know there’s only one of her but they have to make a humanoid monster and dancing cups, I’m sure they can turn one person into three people.

Julie Walters as Mrs. Potts, Beauty And The Beast

Molly Weasley IS Mrs. Potts.

Hogsmeade as Belle’s Quaint Village, Beauty And The Beast

Hogsmeade, UK and Poor Provincial Town, France clearly had the same city planners.

The Lion King: Where Are They Now

The Lion King was released twenty years ago this month. If you’re anything like me, your reaction was “NOPE,” followed by a long contemplation of your own mortality. In Disney terms, Lion King is roughly as old now as The Aristocats and Robin Hood were when we were kids. But, as Rafiki would remind us, it’s all just a part of the circle of life — so let’s see where life has circled our favorite savannah-dwellers to in the two decades since Nala, Simba, and the gang hit theaters (and I wore a steady stream of Lion King t-shirts, camped in a Lion King sleeping bag, and regarded my stuffed Pumba as a prized possession):

Simba

Then

We watched Simba grow from lovable scamp, to outcast, to grown man, to redeemer of Pride Rock.

Now

Simba is almost certainly dead. Lions in the wild live for 10-14 years, though lions in captivity may live to 20-25. So, Simba is either deceased or elderly and languishing in the zoo.

And how’s this for a bummer? Male lions are typically ousted from the pride once they are 2-3 years old if their father gets the boot, unless they take it over. So, Simba’s exile was basically just a cold, scientific reality. Isn’t nature grand? And once he was too old to be useful, he was probably kicked out again. It’s basically the lion version of abandoning an elderly relative at the home.

Nala

Then

Nala was the ultimate BFF-turned-love interest, like a leonine Joey Potter.

Now

Nala had a bunch of cubs. Lion cubs born in the same litter can actually have different fathers – science! – which lead Nala to appear on Timon’s short-lived talk show, sort of an animal version of Maury Povich.

Simba was not the father.

Nala is now dead.

Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed

Then

Scar’s hyena henchmen were last seen mauling their former leader to death.

Now

Hyenas can live up to 25 years in the wild, so it is possible that these fellows are alive and really, really old. Hyenas look decrepit even when they’re babies, so I can only imagine.

Rafiki

Then

Wise Rafiki was supposed to be some sort of shaman/jester hybrid, maybe?

Now

Nope… still don’t really see it.

Babboons can live up to 30 years in the wild, but face it, Rafiki was already pretty old 20 years ago. But if you look up to the night sky, you can see the word “sex” spelled out in the stars and know that he is with you always.

Timon

Then

Funny guy Timon taught Simba how to live and love, and taught us that damn Hakuna Matata song that’s still stuck in our heads two decades later.

Now

Before dying (sorry! you knew it was coming!), Timon took advantage of the weird meerkat reality show trend, and became a star of sorts on Animal Planet.

Pumba

Then

Pumba issued the first fart ever heard on a Disney film (this is a true thing).

Now

Dead.

Well, that’s the circle of life, kids. And the circle stops at death. Also two decades closer to the grave: all of us. Man, I feel old right now.