In the list of musicals that feature people dressed as cats, The Lion King is the second I have seen. The first was a recording of the plotless, pointless, Cats. The two shows could not be more different. Lion King is New York. Cats is El Paso. Lion King is the mighty lion, as Cats is the junkyard cat…. as you might have guessed, I did not like Cats, and I very much enjoyed The Lion King. The Lion King will be playing at the Orpheum Theatre until February 12th.
The Lion King is an awesome musical. The story is that of the Disney movie, and is loosely based off the story of Hamlet. The story is not hard to pick up and is easily understood by children and adults alike. It does have a couple too many fart jokes to pass off as an adult musical. Being live theater, I would have liked to have seen the musical try a few more ambitious things than the movie did, but alas, no.
The personal performances didn’t grab my attention– I have to admit, I was kind of caught off guard by the spectacle of it all. Its strengths are in its ensembles of dance and song and costumes.
I found the music to be perfectly fine. Like the individual performers, there wasn’t a song that stood out, and instead they blended together to make the whole. The dancing I found to be very good. The dancing here represented modern dance done right, something that is rare and a treat when you see it.
One major stand-out is the costumes. Seeing that most of the characters were animals, the costumes were like nothing that I had seen so far. Many of the costumes worked well, like that of the elephant, rhinoceros, or the birds. For the major characters, the costumes varied. I thought that most of the costumes should be like that of Rafiki and Simba’s: subtle, but still clear. I found that the masks were a major problem for some of the characters. The hyena and male lion costumes with the complex masks were very distracting. They should had either put the mask on their face or as a headdress, on their head. It was not helpful to have the mask move. All of the other costumes worked beautifully. Except for that of Timon. It annoyed me incredibly with the actor behind the puppet, covered in green. I usually wouldn’t care, but the costumes were not quite like anything you had ever seen and because they did so many well, the ones that weren’t as strong stood out.
The sets were average. My parents, who managed to get into the show due to the student rush ticket deal and a very cold night which made the line shorter, thought that the rising sun was very cool. Both times.
The Lion King is a colorful, wonderful, fun musical that is absolutely worth seeing. Though it is a bit too “Disney” it certainly is a performance to see, if not for the reason that it is unlike anything you will have ever seen. And unlike Cats, it is enjoyable to watch, even if the ending is predicable and the story, a bit thin.