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Official poster for the show, designed by Aeric Abison.

The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride is a musical based on the eponymous 1998 sequel to The Lion King (1994), with music by Nick Glennie-Smith, Mark Mancina, Jay Rafkin, Lebo M, Elton John and YouTuber Aeric Abison, and lyrics by Marty PanzerTom Snow, Kevin Quinn, Randy Petersen, Mark MancinaJay RifkinLebo MJack Feldman, Scott Warrender, Joss Whedon and Aeric Abison. It is set in the period after Simba becomes king of the Pride Lands and focuses on his daughter Kiara and a lion called Kovu, who is the heir of Scar(Simba's deceased uncle from the first movie/show) and the adopted son of one of the Outsiders(a pride of lionesses who remain faithful to Scar) Zira. The show tells of how the two young lions meet and find love, in spite of their respective families being at odds with each other. This has led many fans and critics to describe the original film, as well as the musical, very similar to William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (calling back to how the original Lion King was compared to another Shakespearean play, Hamlet) but with a happy ending where the lovers do not die and the fueding families reconcile. 

The show was originally conceived in 2017, but production took place over a period of three years. During this time, new sets and costumes were designed, as well as 11 new songs written in addition to the ones already featured in the original film. New scenes showing the development of Kovu and Kiara's relationship, the life of the royal family of Pride Rock, and expansions on shorter scenes in the original animated movie are also included, which help to expand the story and provide some exposition on the impact Scar had on the Pride Lands and shed greater light on each of the main characters. The show is to premiere sometime in the summer of 2020.

Synopsis

Act I

As the sun rises, the animals arrive to witness Kiara’s presentation. Kiara is the newborn daughter of Simba and Nala. The kingdom rejoices as Rafiki shows Kiara to the gathered animals(“He Lives In You”). Timon and Pumbaa talk about how to raise Kiara, thinking that she is a boy but Nala corrects them. They get shocked and faint.

Later that day, Rafiki draws Kiara’s image on her tree. Mufasa’s spirit visits her and tells her about the adopted son of Simba’s sworn enemy Zira, who lives in the Outlands, a termite-infested wasteland with her band of lionesses, called the Outsiders. The cub, named Kovu, was chosen by Scar as his heir and Rafiki learns that Zira plans to train him up to kill Simba and rule the Pride Lands.

Meanwhile, the lionesses loyal to Scar celebrate the birthday of Zira’s cub Kovu. Zira looks at the cub and longs for their return to the Pride Lands after Kovu comes of age(“Born To Be King”). Zira’s other two children, Nuka and Vitani also join in the celebration, but Nuka is jealous of Kovu as he desires to be Scar’s successor(“The Little Prince”).

Later, Sarabi and Simba speak with each other at Pride Rock. They talk about how the kingdom must be governed as the memories of Scar are still fresh in many of the animals’ minds. As they do so, a few of Zira’s cronies attack and Simba and Sarabi, with Nala joining them later, fend them off.

In the Outlands, Zira teaches Kovu how to hunt. Kovu is learning to catch a cricket. Zira tells him to kill it, but Kovu says that the cricket hasn’t hurt him so he sees no reason to kill it. As the lionesses of her pride report their unsuccessful attack, Zira reminds Kovu of who he is and that their pride has no room for weakness. Zira admonishes the lionesses for attacking without informing her.

Moving back to the Pride Lands, Simba and Kiara look at the savannah. Kiara notices a butterfly fluttering by and runs off to chase it, but Simba stops her. He reminds her of who she is and tells her to stay out of trouble. Nala comes in and tells Kiara to mind her father(“Princess Kiara”). Zazu also comes by and tells her of the Outsiders, and Simba tells Kiara to stay away from the Outlands. Kiara asks why, but Simba simply says that she’ll understand it later. Kiara rushes off. Nala reminisces about her and Simba’s childhood, noting how similar Kiara is to Simba when he was a cub. Nala assures Simba that Kiara will be fine, in spite of which Simba discreetly tells Timon and Pumbaa to follow Kiara as she plays. The duo do as Simba says.

Kiara chases the butterfly across the plains. She stumbles upon a rock while trying to catch the butterfly and sees the Outlands in the distance. Timon and Pumbaa frighten her and she faints from Pumbaa’s stench. Timon and Pumbaa discuss babysitting as they try to get Kiara to wake up, which she does. They try to make sure she’s okay but she doesn’t like that they constantly keep following her. They try to get her to eat bugs but she finds them disgusting, and runs off towards the Outlands as Timon and Pumbaa argue about slimy and crunchy bugs.

Kiara bumps into Kovu but the cubs get off on a rough start. Kovu tells Kiara about how he lives on his own, but as he steps on a rock they are confronted by some crocodiles. The crocs try to eat the cubs but they manage to outwit them and make it to safety. Kovu and Kiara bond and start playing together(“What We Could Be Together”), but Simba and Zira come in between them. Simba and Zira face off as Zira introduces Kovu to Simba. Simba orders them to never come to the Pride Lands again and sends them away. Simba and his pride return to Pride Rock. On the way, Simba has a talk with Kiara and reminds her of who she is and that they are one(“We Are One”).

Zira takes Kovu back to the Outlands and scolds Nuka for not keeping an eye on Kovu. Zira confronts Kovu but then gets an idea to kill Simba using Kovu to lure Kiara(“My Lullaby”). Later, Rafiki is visited by Mufasa’s spirit who tells her that the key to ridding the Pride Lands of the danger of the Outsiders is the union of the prides via Kovu and Kiara’s love. Rafiki doubts Mufasa’s plan but he insists. After that, the Pride Lands royal family hold a meeting at which Rafiki tells Simba what Mufasa informed her. Simba is outraged and says that the Outsiders and Pridelanders will never see eye to eye. When Rafiki tells him that it is what Mufasa would want, he becomes defensive, but thoughtful(“My Father’s Footsteps”).

Several years pass and Kovu grows up. Zira declares him ready to kill Simba and retake the throne(“Born To Be King”- reprise 1). In the Pride Lands, Kiara goes for her first hunt(“Princess Kiara”- reprise). Simba tells Timon and Pumbaa to keep an eye on her. They follow her secretly.

Kiara stalks a herd of gazelles as Timon and Pumbaa follow her. However, Pumbaa breaks wind, frightening the gazelles and Kiara discovers them. She runs away to hunt somewhere else, away from the Pride Lands. Meanwhile, Vitani and Nuka appear with lighted sticks, in order to start a fire in the savannah, intending to trap Kiara in it. Zira and Kovu observe the action from atop a cliff and Kovu leaps off to rescue her. Kiara sees the fire rushing towards her and she tries to escape. She manages to climb up a cliff and Kovu finds her, exhausted and unconscious. He takes her and manages to evade the fire. Zazu finds them and he alerts Simba and the pride(“The Fire Rescue”). Simba asks Kovu what he was doing but Rafiki tells Simba that it was Kovu who saved Kiara from the fire. Simba reluctantly agrees to let Kovu stay with them.

As the pride retires for the night, Kovu tries to get inside the cavern with the other lions but Simba blocks his path. Kiara speaks to Kovu before she goes to bed and gets him to agree to train her the next morning onwards. The whole scene is observed by Zira and Nuka hidden in a corner, after which they leave.


Act II

The next morning, Kovu sees Simba outside the cavern, preparing to go on a stroll. He is about to move for the kill but Kiara surprises him and they go away to the plains to train.

Kovu tries to teach Kiara how to hunt by teaching her how to focus and be stealthier. Timon and Pumbaa walk in and surprise them, interrupting their lesson. Timon asks Kovu to scare away the birds that have infested their feeding ground, which turns the training session into a game. The foursome run across the plains until they come face to face with a herd of rhinos. The rhinos give chase but the group manages to evade them. Kovu and Kiara decide to go somewhere else to train as Timon and Pumbaa head back to their feeding ground(“The Hunting Lesson”).

Kiara and Kovu run through the plains and Kovu teaches her how to stalk some wildebeest. However, they are confronted by a leopard. The leopard tries to kill Kovu but Kiara outwits the leopard, saving Kovu’s life. This act of hers makes an impression on Kovu(“Born To Be King”- reprise 2). After their training session, Kovu and Kiara head back home as night falls.

Back at Pride Rock, Simba sees a nightmare- he is taken back to the moment where his father dies. Scar tells Simba to trust him as he slowly morphs to Kovu. Simba awakens suddenly and looks to the stars for guidance. Nala talks to Simba, who tells her that he fears for Kiara’s safety as Kovu is an Outsider, but Nala tells him to look beyond what he sees and that perhaps Kovu doesn’t necessarily want to hurt Kiara.

The next morning, Kiara and Kovu head out for another training session. Simba sees them going away and tells Timon and Pumbaa to follow them, which they reluctantly agree to do so. They keep their distance as Kiara and Kovu train and grow closer(“They’re Falling In Love”). The pair manage to remain hidden but grow tired as Kiara and Kovu continue to train. Kovu becomes accustomed to having fun and begins to defy his mother’s rules, and Kiara begins to trust Kovu more. Nuka and Vitani see what’s happening and report back to Zira. She is overjoyed that their plan is working all too well.

Later that evening, Kovu and Kiara stargaze. They have a heartfelt conversation where Kovu almost tells the truth to Kiara and finally realises how much he loves her(Born To Be King reprise 2), but as he prepares to leave Rafiki comes in and helps the two of them fall in love as she leads them in a musical show to “Upendi”(“Upendi”). Kovu and Kiara realize that they love each other and head back to Pride Rock where Simba allows Kovu to sleep in the cavern with the rest of the pride. Vitani watches from a corner nearby and is shocked when Kovu doesn’t make an attack on Simba. She heads back to the Outlands and tells everything to Zira. Zira is furious and decides to secretly ambush Simba herself, suspecting Kovu of betrayal(“Betray Us”).

The next morning, Simba decides to speak to Kovu for a while before he goes to train Kiara. Kiara is delighted and the two lions have a chat as they walk through the plains. Simba tells Kovu the true story of Scar and Kovu starts to question everything he’s learnt about Simba and Scar from Zira. However, Zira and a few Outsiders creep up on Simba and he blames Kovu for inviting them. Kovu denies any wrongdoing and he tries to fight them off but Vitani knocks him unconscious. The Outsiders chase Simba down the middle of the gorge, and Simba tries to climb up a pile of logs. As Simba struggles to reach the top, Nuka attempts to kill Simba but Simba accidentally makes a log fall on Nuka, killing him in the process(“The Ambush”). Kovu arrives to find Zira mourning Nuka. She blames Kovu for Nuka’s death but Kovu denies any wrongdoing and defies his mother. Zira strikes Kovu on the face and scars him. Kovu runs off and Zira decides to mount a final and fatal attack on Pride Rock.

Meanwhile, Nala, Sarabi, Timon and Pumbaa find an injured Simba and take him back to Pride Rock. Zazu brings in the animals to Pride Rock as Simba prepares to pronounce judgement on Kovu. Kiara tries to intercede on Kovu’s behalf but Simba silences her and exiles Kovu(“Not One Of Us”). Kiara tries to plead with Simba but he refuses to let Kovu come back(“Why Can’t You See”). Simba orders a strict watch on Kiara, which makes Nala argue in Kiara’s defence. Zazu tries to make peace between them all by reminding them that they mustn’t be divided over this matter. Kiara runs off to find Kovu. Timon and Pumbaa rush off to bring her back.

Kiara runs through the plains in search of Kovu and finds him wandering in the desert. They confess their love for each other(“Love Will Find A Way”). Kovu tells Kiara the truth, and she finds it difficult to accept but decides to forgive him anyway and gives him a chance to prove himself by asking him to join her in reuniting their divided pride. The couple run off to Pride Rock to talk things out with Simba.

As the sun sets, Zira and the Outsiders head to the gorge to face Simba. Meanwhile, Timon and Pumbaa tell Simba that Kiara is missing. Zazu alerts Simba of the impending attack and the lions make it to the gorge to face the Outsiders. The Pridelanders and Outsiders fight hard. As the fight comes to a heat, Simba and Zira face off in a duel. Just as Zira is about to deliver the killing stroke to Simba, Kiara and Kovu rush in between them. Kovu openly defies his mother and Kiara gets Simba to acknowledge that they are one. Simba embraces his daughter. Zira orders Vitani to attack but she refuses. She joins Simba’s pride. Zira threatens to kill her, which shocks and disgusts the Outsiders, and they join Simba’s pride as well. Zira goes mad at the loss of her son and pride and throws herself into the rushing waters below. Simba officially welcomes Kovu and the Outsiders back into their pride, and they all return to Pride Rock as Mufasa congratulates his son and Rafiki blesses the union of Kiara and Kovu(“Finale- We Are One reprise”).

Cast

  • Keke Palmer as Kiara (adolescent)
  • Jelani Alladin as Kovu (adolescent)
  • Nick Afoa as Simba
  • Rachel York as Zira
  • Chantel Riley as Nala
  • Melina M'Poy as Sarabi
  • Futhi Mhlongo as Rafiki
  • Jeff Binder as Zazu
  • Jonathan Schwartz as Nuka
  • Nia Holloway as Vitani (adolescent)
  • Danny Rutigliano as Timon
  • Bob Bouchard as Pumbaa
13817325-6982-41F0-8ECA-DFF6CA6D9E3B

Collage showing the principal cast for the show. Top row(left to right): Keke Palmer(Kiara), Jelani Alladin(Kovu), Nick Afoa(Simba), Chantel Riley(Nala), Futhi Mhlongo(Rafiki), Jeff Binder(Zazu. Bottom row(left to right): Rachel York(Zira), Jonathan Schwartz(Nuka), Nia Holloway(Vitani), Melina M'Poy(Sarabi), Danny Rutigliano(Timon), Bob Bouchard(Pumbaa).






Musical numbers

Act I:

  1. He Lives In You (Rafiki, ensemble)
  2. Born To Be King (Zira, Outsiders)
  3. The Little Prince (Nuka, Vitani)
  4. The Circle Of Life (Sarabi)
  5. Princess Kiara (Simba, Nala, Zazu)
  6. What We Could Be Together (Kovu, Kiara)
  7. Born To Be King Zira reprise (Zira)
  8. We Are One (Simba, Kiara, ensemble)
  9. My Lullaby (Zira, Nuka, Vitani, Outsiders)
  10. My Father’s Footsteps (Simba, Rafiki, Nala, Sarabi)
  11. Born To Be King- reprise 2/Princess Kiara- reprise 2 (Zira, Outsiders, Nala, Pridelanders)
  12. The Fire Rescue (ensemble)

Act II:

  1. Sisi Ni Sawa (ensemble)
  2. The Hunting Lesson (ensemble)
  3. Born To Be King- reprise (Kovu)
  4. Endless Night/My Father’s Footsteps reprise (Simba)
  5. They’re Falling In Love (Timon and Pumbaa)
  6. My Lullaby reprise (Zira)
  7. Upendi (Rafiki, Kiara, Kovu, ensemble)
  8. The Little Prince Vitani reprise (Vitani)
  9. Betray Us (Zira)
  10. My Lullaby+Betray Us reprise (Zira and Kovu)
  11. Not One Of Us (Simba, Pridelanders, ensemble)
  12. Why Can’t You See (Kiara, Simba)
  13. My Father’s Footsteps Zazu reprise 
  14. Love Will Find A Way (Kiara, Kovu)
  15. The Circle Of Life+We Are One Kiara reprise 
  16. My Lullaby Zira reprise (Zira)
  17. Finale- We Are One reprise (Kiara, Simba, Pridelanders, Outsiders)

Many of the songs are written based on melodies from the score of the original film(s), much like the musical numbers from the original Lion King musical. For example, the verses of "Born To Be King" feature the melody of the score that plays in the scene where Kiara and Kovu narrowly escape being eaten by some crocodiles in the Outlands. Another example is the melody of "My Father's Footsteps" which is based on the score "This Land", taken from the original Lion King film/Broadway musical. In fact, the whole song may be considered a reprise of "Endless Night" from the original Lion King show. 

In addition to these, some songs that were considered for the show but eventually got deleted are "Bugs Are The Best", a duet by Timon and Pumbaa, and a reprise of "My Father's Footsteps", also a duet, but sung by Simba and Kiara. The latter eventually was replaced with a solo for Kiara, "Why Can't You See". 

In addition to the aforementioned songs, a new Swahili version of the song "Sisi Ni Sawa(We're The Same)" from the TV show The Lion Guard has also made its way into the show as an opener for the second act. The reason for the addition of this song is the similarity in theme to "We Are One", which also speaks of unity against all odds. 

History

The show was conceived as a one-act production by YouTuber Aeric Abison(then known as Aeric Lee), with a few new lyrcis for "Upendi", a new scene featuring Simba and Zazu, and a brief reprise of "Endless Night" in 2017. The show was made as a comic strip and uploaded on their channel in parts from 2017 to 2018. 

In 2019, however, 11 new songs were decided upon and added to the show, as well as revisions of the costumes and set designs. New scenes featuring several of the main characters were added as well. A notable narrative addition was the inclusion of Sarabi, Simba's mother, in a few scenes which seek to increase the presence of under-represented characters in the story.

A video was published on YouTube showing what the opening number "He Lives In You" would look like on Aeric Abison's channel(which was later deleted and re-uploaded on their new channel), featuring a demo recording of the new version of "He Lives In You". The dialogue and music are still in the formative stage. 

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