chapter  3
30 Pages

The Lion King, mimesis, and Disney’s magical capitalism

An advert in the program for The Lion King, Julie Taymor’s stage version of the original Disney film, which opened in November 1997 at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York, reads: “Enjoy your audience with the King. And remember, even in the jungle, American Express helps you do more.” What is so striking about this ad is not only its blatant construction of the mutually beneficial relationship between theatre and the market, but also that it places audience members bodily inside the fiction of the musical. They are not merely an audience watching the lion king Mufasa on a stage, they are inside the play, enjoying their audience with him. The market, in the form of American Express, has a clear commercial interest in encouraging consumers to slide from their actual location as spectators of a show to fictional participant in the stage drama, which, in this case, is a multimillion dollar commodity.