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Circle of Life/The Lion King

Circle of Life
The Lion King

Music by
Book by

Elton John

Roger Allers
Irene Mecchi

Lyrics by
Tim Rice

Produced by
Directed by
Thomas Schumacher

Costumes by

Peter Schneider

Julie Taymor

Circle of Life/The Lion King

While it actually opened on November 13, 1997, The Lion King celebrated
its 15th anniversary on Broadway on November 18, 2012, with a special performance at
the Minskoff Theater in New York City. In the audience were many of the shows origina
cast members and its creative team, who had earned six Tony Awards, including Best
Choreography, Best Costume Design, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Lighting Design,
Best Scenic Design and Best Musical.

The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in

Theater, or Tony Award, is named for Antoinette
Perry (1988-1946), an actress and director who was
Chairman of the Board and Secretary of the
American Theatre Wing throughout World War
II. She always insisted on high standards in her
work, so beginning in 1947 the award was
given in memory of her. Each June the Tonys
are given to outstanding achievements in
The actual award medallion was designed and
first given in 1949. Made of brass and bronze,
the medallion shows comedy and tragedy
masks on one side, and the category, date, and
winners name on the opposite side.

The Lion King statistics: (as of Aug. 4, 2013)

Number of Performances: 6544
Average Ticket Price: $88.98
Highest Weekly Gross: $2,666,166
Total Current Gross: $980,871, 732
Average Capacity Audience: 97.65

Circle of Life/The Lion King

Julie Taymor/Director/Costume Designer/Mask and Puppet Co-Designer

Julie Taymor was born December 15, 1952 in Boston, Massachusetts.

As a child she liked putting on shows and later joined a theater
At age fifteen she spent time in India and Sri Lanka as part of an
educational program.
After high school she went to Paris to study mime with Jacques
LeCoq, and there also learned about masks and puppetry.
After graduating from Oberlin College in 1974 she traveled to Asia
on a fellowship, visiting Japan, Indonesia, Bali and Java.
In Bali she established her own theater company, Teatr Loh.
She has said, I was very taken with the fact that the theatre
productions there there a part of everyday lifeYou dont do it because
youre going to be reviewed in Time magazine, but its part of what it
is to be a living human being.
After returning to the United States in 1980, she continued her work
in theater. She won awards for Scenic, Costume, and Puppet Design
for her work on The Haggadah and for Concept Puppetry and Masks
on the musical Juan Darien. For Juan Darien she also directed and
wrote the book (script).

Circle of Life/The Lion King

She took on the project of translating the Disney movie The Lion King
into a Broadway musical. Her many talents contributed to the musical
receiving, in 1997, eleven Tony Award nominations.
In 1998 Julie Taymor became the first woman to win the Tony Award
for Best Direction of a Musical for The Lion King, and she also won
for Best Costumes.
Her productions have included The Green Bird, Titus Andronicus,
The Tempest, The Taming of the Shrew, The Transposed Heads,
and Libertys Taken (theater), Titus, Frida, The Tempest and Across
the Universe (movies), Oedipus Rex, Salome, The Flying Dutchman
and The Magic Flute (opera).
On June 13, 2013 she was presented with the 2013 Sackler Center
First Award, which honors women who are first in their fields.
She is currently working on a production of Shakespeares
A Midsummer Nights Dream, to be premiered in Brooklyn, New York
November 2, 2013.
Julie Taymor has traveled to many countries in the world for her
work, but today lives and works in New York City.

Circle of Life/The Lion King


Sir Elton John/ Music

Sir Tim Rice/ Lyrics

Circle of Life/The Lion King

Elton John

Tim Rice

Sir Elton John was born on March 25, 1947 in Pinner, Middlesex,
England. His real name is Reginald Kenneth Dwight.
At age 3 he surprised his family by playing The Skaters Waltz on the
piano, and at age 11 he was awarded a scholarship at the Royal
Academy of Music. He is pictured above at age 6.
He began to perform in public in 1962 with his band, The Corvettes.
In 1967 his stage name became his legal name. It came from two
of his band mates, whose names included Elton and John.
That same year he answered a Talent Wanted ad in a newspaper,
placed by a record company. Another writer, Bernie Taupin, also
answered the ad, and the record company put them in touch. They
wrote many hit songs together, always by corresponding by mail. They
never wrote a song together in the same room! Elton wrote the music;
Bernie, the lyrics (words).
In the 1990s Elton worked with another collaborator, (writing partner),
Tim Rice, on the music for the Disney movie The Lion King. It won
Best Male Pop Grammy and also an Academy Award for Can You
Feel the Love Tonight.
Elton John is one of the most successful solo artists of all time. He
has achieved 35 gold and 25 platinum albums, sold more than 250
million records, and holds the record for biggest selling single of all
time, Candle in the Wind.
He earned 5 Grammy Awards: 1986, 1991, 1994, 1997, and 2000.
He received Knighthood from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1998.
(This is why he is called Sir Elton John).

Circle of Life/The Lion King

He was awarded the Kennedy Center Honor in 2004.

Every year since 1959 the

Grammy has been given to
recognize outstanding
achievement in the music industry
by the National Academy of
Recording Arts and Sciences of
the United States. There are over
80 categories in which to win.
The gold-plated grammy is in the
shape of a gramophone, the first

The Academy Award, or Oscar, is given by the

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
each year for achievements in film. The tradition
began in 1929. The official name for the award
is the Academy Award of Merit. While there are
many stories about how the award became
known as the Oscar the true origin is not
known. The design is a knight holding a
crusaders sword, standing on a reel of film. The
film reel features 5 spokes for the 5 original
branches of the Academy; actors, directors,
producers, technicians and writers. The statue is
made in Chicago and is 13 inches tall and 8

Circle of Life/The Lion King

Synopsis of Story
The story takes place in Africa.

Simba, a lion prince, is born and the animals of the Pride Lands pay
tribute. As Simba grows up he learns that he will become King
someday when his father, King Mufasa, dies.
2. If Mufasa had not had a son Mufasas brother Scar (Simbas uncle)
would have become king.
3. The jealous Scar angrily plots to kill Mufasa and Simba so that he
can become the king of the Pride Lands.
4. Scar plans for the hyenas to cause a stampede in the canyon where
Mufasa and Simba are, and he causes Mufasa to fall to his death.
5. Simba is alive, but his uncle convinces him that he is to blame
for the tragedy. Simba leaves the Pride Lands, thinking he can never
return home because of what he has done.
6. Timon the meerkat and Pumbaa the warthog find Simba alone and
worn out. They help him and become his friends. They remain
7. Nala, Simbas friend from childhood, when hunting to find food past the
lands that Scar has ruined, instead finds Simba. She is surprised and
overjoyed to see him and she pleads with him to return home. Under
Scars management the Pride Lands are suffering and all of the
animals will starve unless Simba returns to fight for his kingdom.
8. Simba makes the decision to return to the Pride Lands.
9. He battles Scar and he finds out that Scar was responsible for his
fathers death.
10. Simba wins this battle and at last assumes his rightful place as king.
The circle is complete.

Circle of Life/The Lion King

Circle of Life lyrics

Nants ingonyama bakithi baba (Here comes a lion, father)
Sithi uhm ingonyama
(Oh, yes, its a lion)


Nants ingonyama bakithi baba

Sithi uhhmm ingonyama
Siyo Nqoba
(Were going to conquer)
Ingonyama nengw enamabala (A lion and a leopard come to this
open place)
From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
Theres more to see than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done
Theres far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high
Through the sapphire sky
Keeps great and small on the endless round
Its the circle of life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle
The circle of life

Circle of Life/The Lion King

Its the circle of life

And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle
The circle of life

Using the Elements of Music

Many students will be familiar with this song, and will be able to approach it from
different perspectives. It is accessible for all ages early elementary to infinity!
Consider this years theme: From Fanfare to Finale. This piece begins with a vocal
fanfare! Rafiki shatters the silence of the sun rise to call out animals far
and near to present the newborn lion cub, Simba. Compare to other fanfares. What
makes it so special? Perhaps some children will have experienced the show, with
animals coming down the aisles and making their way to the stage.
Young students can use scarves or stuffed animals to describe the piece. Its
beautiful music that can just be enjoyed on a purely emotional level, just for the
sake of listening and being enveloped by the timbres and rhythms. Students could
create movements for the different characters, considering how each would move.
Older students can consider it by using every element:
MELODY students can follow the melody and determine the numbers or solfege.
It begins in a very low range. What happens when the first melody repeats? (It is
an octave higher.) What is a musical tie? How many can students find in the verse?
How is a slur different? What is the melodic contour of the piece? How could it be
described with movement?
RHYTHM Younger students can tap a steady beat when the verse begins and
throughout; switching to drum beats that are quiet enough to hear the singers.
Older students could learn the 2 rhythm patterns shown later in this document and
continue them as ostinati throughout, using one for the verse and one for the refrain.
A great time to utilize gourd shakers and all manner of African percussion.
HARMONY Where are the places during which you can hear more than one
melody being played or sung at the same time? Does the harmony of the piece
mirror the harmony of the animals in the Pride Lands? Listen for the underlying

Circle of Life/The Lion King

chant by the chorus while Rafiki sings the melody.

FORM students can find repeated parts by listening, analyzing the sections and
determining how the piece is arranged. It employs verse and refrain.
TIMBRE students listen for instruments and write what is heard in each of the
sections. Post instrument pictures for them to consider as they listen (ask them to
name those instruments prior to listening, so that names can be posted next to
pictures). Are there any sounds that are not familiar to them? What are the differences
between the singers voices anda popular singer you might hear on the radio? How
do the voices sound different from our own? Why?
EXPRESSION What is the overall mood of this music? How do the composer and
lyricist create this mood? What is the tempo? The dynamics? What kinds of choices
will you have to make when you sing it in order to convey the mood or idea that the composer wants?
Choose 6 animal pictures to copy and laminate.
Ask students to listen to the piece.
Have them pull an animal out of a safari hat.
Each animal stands for one of the elements listed.
All elephants, for example, will listen to the piece again and answer the
EXPRESSION questions, deciding how to answer as a group.
Answers can be listed on the board and on a subsequent hearing a different group
could consider those answers to see if they feel differently than the original group
Students could also show their element with movement, scarves, or other materials.

Produce a short version of The Lion King with shadow puppetry:

Shadow puppets are the oldest form of Puppet Theater, and they are used in The Lion
King. Traditional shadow puppets in Asia were cut from goat, buffalo, or donkey hide.
The puppet silhouettes were painted on with vegetable dye. Flickering oil lamps
provided the light behind an outdoor screen. Characters could be manipulated with
sticks attached to both hands, feet, or to the head. Below is a picture of an
Indonesian shadow puppet. Its neck is also able to move up and down or to turn.

Circle of Life/The Lion King

Make your own African animal shadow puppets!

Enlarge the animals so that each is about page size and/or
Create and draw other animal characters from the story of your own choosing, such
as Rafiki, Pumbaa, Sarabi, Nala, Timon, or the grasslands.
Mount on tag board, color darkly and laminate.
Attach sticks, chopsticks, or straws to the laminated animal pictures.
Hang a white sheet from the ceiling if possible, or from something else in order
to place a lamp behind the sheet.
Have students kneel or crouch on the lamp light side of the sheet to create
shadow puppets that tell the story or show the form of the music while it is
being played. Hold the puppets close to the sheet.


Circle of Life/The Lion King


Circle of Life/The Lion King


Circle of Life/The Lion King

shadow puppet fish behind a piece of silk

Additional animal pictures are available by typing safari animal
Pictures into Google or Bing online.
Reading/Literacy: book tie-ins with topics ranging from animals to people
who have overcome obstacles or have made a difference despite
struggles along the way, such as I Can Make A Difference: A Treasury
To Inspire Our Children, by Marian Wright Edelman (2005: Harper
Collins Publishing).
Social Studies/Geography: discussion/further study of the African
Science: study of animals, especially pertaining to the life cycle.
Art: mask-making, scenic design, make-up design, costuming,
incorporating technology.
Music: discussion of careers in music/theater; composer, lyricist,
director, actor, producer, technician, choreographer, dancer, singer,
costumer to name only a few.

Circle of Life/The Lion King


Circle of Life/The Lion King


Circle of Life/The Lion King

National Standards addressed:

Singing A.4.1, A.4.2, A.4.5
Performing B.4.1, B.4.2, B.4.3, B.4.5, B.4.6
Improvising C.4.2
Reading E.4.1, E.4.2
Listening F.4.1, F.4.2, F.4.5, F.4.6
Understanding H.4.2, I.4.3


The definitive book filled with information and pictures on The Lion King
by Julie Taymor

How Does the Show Go On an introduction to the theater by Thomas Schumacher (Producer of The
Lion King) An excellent resource filled with information and artifacts about all things theater,

Circle of Life/The Lion King

written for kids.

The World of Theater from Scholastic Books

a spiral bound book spanning the ages, with fold-out pages, puppetry,
stickers and more, for children.
All books available from

Elton John. (2013). Retrieved Aug 12, 2013, from The Official
Elton John Website,
Julie Taymor. (2013). The Biography Channel website. Retrieved
11:42, Aug 12, 2013, from
Sir Elton John. (2013). The Biography Channel website. Retrieved
11:48, Aug 12, 2013, from
Here are some excellent clips for classroom use:

Circle of Life/The Lion King

and, please see the TedTalks video with Julie Taymor at the
WMEA Listening Project Facebook page!