Emerging director Noelle Chesnut Whitmore and company made digital content production history on buzzy social platform Clubhouse today, delivering a soul-sparking virtual presentation of The Lion King: Holiday Extravaganza on Clubhouse to thousands.
With visionary Whitmore steering a groundbreaking storytelling process, the ensemble nailed key emotional elements—like those which vintage 1930s-40s radio gave audiences during its theatrical programming heyday—and delivered a fresh feeling, live mega-podcast experience across two maxed out performances. Rooms on Clubhouse (which currently operates in private, wait-list beta) accommodate roughly 5,000 accounts per session — and more people were still trying to get in.
A Chance Meeting Inspires
Promising newcomers like Chris “Boogie” Glover (who voiced Mustafa with arresting baritone splendor) to established pros like Gina Belafonte (who played Zazu with such endearing comedic timing) rooted the show with committed performances.
Whitmore—a music marketing executive and creative artist-producer—was inspired to produce this Lion King experience on Clubhouse after randomly meeting Glover online in one of the app’s rooms with emerging artist-musician Bomani X (also this month’s face of the Clubhouse app) and acclaimed actor Myles Grier.
Glover would be perfect to play Mufasa, she observed upon hearing his über-distinct voice. Grier began riffing Simba’s lines with Glover, setting the group on a course which scaled to over forty international cast, music, and crew members generously giving their time and energy.
Kam Dela and Bomani X served as musical directors. Mir Harris voiced the role of Nala. Tunde Sho, Minh Do, and Brandon Rainey, among many other featured performers comprised the cast.
And for the record: This production was sparked and executed specifically by Whitmore and this team, not the app owners or staff, as some social media posts initially and erroneously assumed. (Trust, the Clubhouse team is busy enough just scaling its skyrocketing platform.)
PTR Perfection Fuels Imaginations
Well-crafted narration, a technically seamless musical operation, and coordinated pull-to-refresh (PTR) stage graphics not only heightened the overall production quality, but also made the experience more deeply immersive and accessible for more people.
The narration script writer dutifully delivered scene and action descriptions, which captured attentions and fueled imaginations across demographics.
The most spirited proof here was not in this rendition’s all-day-Twitter-trending accolades (#2 only behind the NFL during the matinee, remaining a Trending Topic through the evening show), but in a Clubhouse Kids After-Party Room.
Springing up organically between parents, who had shared the matinee with their children, the Kids After-Party Room blossomed into an attraction unto itself. More Clubhouse members began discovering this room, pinging in cast and crew, who then talked and sang with elementary school-aged fans for eons.
Innovative Quest for Joy Yields New App Use Cases
This collective pushed the capabilities and use cases not only of the Clubhouse app, but also expanded creative possibilities for human connection in the face of a horrific global pandemic. And did so fittingly on the first day of Kwanzaa, which celebrates unity.
Like music icon D-Nice lifting spirits across a Covid-beleaguered world with his celebrated deejay sets on Instagram, the Lion King on Clubhouse team made people-connecting history today—along with entertainment production and tech history.
Hakuna Matata: No Worries
And, like D-Nice, all they were trying to do was show a few folks a good time and little escape from lockdown. A safe escape into our own imaginations, where no masks are needed, no Covid lurking, no worries:
“What started as a random conversation on Clubhouse has scaled to something much greater,” Whitmore shared. “Our goal is just to spread some joy to people through these events. I never imagined this would get such a huge response.”
Hakuna matata, indeed.