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10 Characters Whose Genders Were Swapped in Production

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Rafiki

Picture 10 of 11

In the movie version of The Lion King, Rafiki (‘friend’ in Swahili) was the weird, wise medicine man baboon character who gave Simba the guidance he needed. A godfather, if you will. But when The Lion King came to Broadway, Rafiki became a female. Why? Well, before the show’s producer Julie Taymor got to ruining Spider-Man, she came up with a brilliant Broadway version of The Lion King. However, she felt that the story lacked a strong, prominent female character, so she switched Rafiki’s gender to female. (Simba’s mother Sarabi was pretty tough stuff and Nala was hardly submissive, plus the lionesses did all the hunting, but anyway …) So, Rafiki was now a wise, crone-type figure, still providing guidance, still bestowing wisdom, still kind of eccentric, but now taking on a slightly more prominent role onstage. Because now Rafiki sings “The Circle of Life” instead of a pleasant, disembodied voice.

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