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Mark Mancina: How a King Soars & Sings

Unlike any Broadway musical before and challenging the extremes of creativity yet to come The Lion King has proudly roared in New York City for 10 years! The unique and unforgettable award-winning production has thrilled over 45 million people across the globe. 

The distinctive theatrical achievements of The Lion King are the handiwork of dozens of talented artists, creators and musicians, including co-songwriter and music producer, Mark Mancina.

Mancina, who helped pen the music to the original Disney animated movie, has also composed the original movie scores to hit films like Tarzan, Speed, Twister, Training Day and this Thanksgiving's release of August Rush.  For more information visit MarkMancina.com

BroadwayWorld's News Desk Editor, Eugene Lovendusky, had the enjoyable opportunity to chat with Mark Mancina days before The Lion King's 10th Anniversary gala performance (unfortunately later interrupted by the strike).  Mancina shares the joys and inspiration in creating the unique music for The Lion King and how the musical has touched his life professional and personally…

Eugene Lovendusky: Thank you very much for taking a moment to chat with BroadwayWorld and congratulations with this ten-year milestone with The Lion King.  Take us back to the start of it all… whom approached you about making the "sound" for The Lion King.

Mark Mancina: I had originally produced the songs for the film, arranger, composer here and there, and as a result, I had written a song that I thought – for the movie – would be really powerful. But the reality was that as I got further into the project, the song would be inappropriate paired with the Elton John and Tim Rice songs.  After The Lion King success, Disney came to me and asked "Do you have material you could derive from the score or new material that could be featured in 'Rhythm in The Pridelands'?" and the feature would also feature  Lebo – and I was really eager to work with Lebo again.  I showed Lebo this song that I had called "He Lives In You" and we finished it, recorded it, and that song happened to get to Julie Taymor… this record really influenced the way she wanted to take the story and visualize the musical. It was a series of events that led with a phone-call from her asking Lebo and I to put The Lion King into a musical! I was a pretty happy guy by then and didn't have much desire to do it as a musical until I met Julie.  She said she wanted it to be organic, real, human… she wanted to have percussion you can see and to expand on the African score.  For a composer, this was all music to my ears. Having Lebo as a partner, I said "I'm in!" I had to put my music-composing life on-hold and immersed myself into a new world of theatre. It was fascinating! What was this? She was explaining so many situations that would be happening on-stage, but I had no idea what she was talking about! [laughs] She explained that a giant Mufasa mask would appear during my song… and of course, until all the costumes and sets were finished, it was an amazing process! Theatre is so human and alive! When people are flying, there are wires. You see it. With the costumes, you see the people. That's what got me to believe in this really from the beginning. I knew it would be so special. She was the captain of the ship.

Eugene: What an absolutely fascinating story! There's a special X-Factor when something creative is just good! It sounds like when you and Lebo and Julie got into a room, it came together. Did you ever know, 10 years ago, that The Lion King would be such a phenomenon?

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Eugene Lovendusky Eugene Lovendusky graduated summa cum laude from SFSU with a BA in Writing for Electronic Media and a minor in Drama. Raised in the SF Bay Area, his love for the arts bloomed at an early-age; a passion that has flourished in NYC, where Eugene now lives and works. He is a proud member of the New York City Gay Mens' Chorus.