Trying to pick your favourite Disney film is one of life’s great challenges, but making yourself choose between seeing Aladdin or The Lion King is an impending dilemma posing us all once Disney’s latest Broadway hit Aladdin the musical transfers to the West End in 2016. So let’s try to shed some light on this great unanswerable question: Aladdin or The Lion King?
The Lion King has undoubtably stood the test of time, premiering on the West End in 1999 and still running to this day (which makes it almost as old as me!). It remains to be seen if Aladdin will have this kind of staying power, but the Disney brand is one that people trust. Aladdin on Broadway has received positive reviews, even winning over New York Times critic Charles Isherwood who said the show ‘defied [his] dour expectations’. It was nominated for the Best Musical Tony award in 2014 and James Monroe Iglehart who played the character of the Genie won the Tony for Best Supporting Actor that same year.
Both bear classic childhood favourites; Aladdin’s ‘Friend Like Me’ and ‘A Whole New World’ more than compete with The Lion King’s ‘Hakuna Matata’ and ‘Circle of Life’. Famously penned by Elton John and Tim Rice, it would be easy to assume Aladdin might struggle to compete with these household names. But once you find out Tim Rice is also on board for Aladdin lyrics along with Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, you can feel pretty confident that Aladdin’s score will be just as showstopping. Big fans of the film will be keen to find out there are some songs included in Aladdin the musical that didn’t make the film, so anyone wanting to learn more about the history of Aladdin the musical won’t be disappointed.
Not only are there a whole host of classic songs to keep you entertained, the show’s characters are all equally as iconic. Aladdin quotes adorn many a Tumblr account and it’s almost inevitable that some of these classics from the film will delight audiences on the West End for many years to come. But personally, I’m not sure anything can beat the entire verse of 'Hakuna Matata' dedicated to Pumbaa’s wind issues as one of the funniest things you can hear on stage as a child. If I’ve learnt anything from having a younger brother: farts are always funny!
So after all this, have we come to a conclusion? Seemingly the Aladdin vs The Lion King debate remains a great unanswerable theatre question. I suppose the only thing you can do is see The Lion King now, and wait for Aladdin next year!
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