You remember The Lion King, yes? Cute Disney movie, little lion cub, dead dad, evil uncle, etc.? They turned it into a musical a while back? Well, the director of that musical, Julie Taymor, is headed into the Theater Hall of Fame. And because she is headed into the Theater Hall of Fame, she was invited to speak at the Nantucket Project this weekend. And while she was speaking at the Nantucket Project, she explained that her original idea for the musical involved changing the ending. And in her changed ending, instead of returning to the pride to battle Scar and become king, Simba ends up — and, truly, I hope you are ready to read this next part — in Las Vegas fighting gladiator battles against other exotic animals.
Time has the full explanation:
She wanted to introduce a new villain named Papa Croc who had struck a deal with Scar, the villainous lion from the original story, to buy up all the water in the land. Papa Croc then funneled this water to create a desert oasis: Las Vegas (complete with plays on animals and humans like Papa Croc’s Pussycat Lounge).
“And here comes Simba the wild beast from the jungle, and he falls for Papa Croc because he doesn’t have a father,” Taymor said, as Simba’s father Mufasa dies both in the movie and at the end of the first act of her musical.
But Papa Croc then puts Simba in the Coliseum and forces him to fight against animals from other lands in a brutal animal gladiator show.
A few notes:
- The idea was shot down by Disney, obviously, which Taymor acknowledges now was the right decision.
- Fun visual: Picture Julie Taymor pitching her insane “What if Simba ends up as a Vegas gladiator working for an evil crocodile?” ending to a room of Disney suits. Picture them fidgeting uncomfortably in their chairs. Picture one of them sliding the others a note that said “Call security?” Picture all of it.
- I want you to be really honest with yourself here: If someone told you that this was how the Lion King musical ended… you would see it, right? Just out of curiosity, if nothing else? Of course you would.
- Julie Taymor seems like a very fun person to hang out with.
This is the best Broadway story.