The award winning show “The Lion King”, which is based on the Disney movie, has always been one of my favorites. I’ve seen the musical five times since its inception in Minneapolis in 1997. This family friendly musical is the winner of seven Tony awards and over 70 major arts awards. The story of “The Lion King” follows a young lion cub named Simba as he suffers loss, grows-up, confronts his problems and rediscovers who he is. Disney’s heartfelt family classic comes to life through the gifted acting, inspired puppetry, Grammy award winning music, flowing choreography, and Julie Taymor’s unique costuming in this beautiful feat of musical theater.
One actor that I would like to spotlight is J. Anthony Crane who played the villainous role of Scar. His voice was low and rather sinister sounding. This, combined with the agitated choreography, embodied the traitorous characteristics of the antagonist Scar. The way that he used the tone of his voice to make all of Scar’s songs sound bitter and resentful really added to the character. I also liked Jelani Remy in the role of adult Simba. His voice was incredible in the way that it was soft and heart breaking, but also loud and joyful. In the song “Endless Night”, he sounded entrancing and melancholy at first, but then became strong and passionate as he finished the song. Jelani’s dancing was full of energy and life, just the way that young adult Simba is in the movie. I also thought that Jelani had good chemistry with Syndee Winters, who played adult Nala. I did not like Keith Bennett as Banzai, Scar’s nefarious hyena minion. He was not loud enough and he did not seem to me like he was very into the role.
The lionesses were astounding in the way that they moved so fluidly while wearing large cumbersome lion heads on top of their own heads. They, along with the rest of the cast, moved as if the costumes and puppets were an extension of their own body. My favorite puppet was Zazu, The character was played by Mark David Kaplan. I felt that the puppet’s appearance was true to the movie, as was Mark’s voice. This is one show where many things contribute to the creation of a character. The costuming, the make-up, the puppetry and the movement of the actor are all needed to make the character complete.
Another note worthy part of “The Lion King” are the imaginative sets. The way that they showed the movement of the water and the sky by using nearly see-through fabric was simple and worked well. During the song “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” actors were used to create bits of scenery, with vibrant costumes and intricate choreography. I also liked the lighting techniques that they used during the song “Endless Night” to make the background seem like it was a starry night sky at deep midnight, which then faded into the bright dawn of a new day.
Over all, “The Lion King” is a very enthralling show. All of the acting and technical aspects of the show combine to make a dramatic and stunning performance. This show is family friendly, and is therefore fun for all ages.