Disney’s stage adaptation of “The Lion King” has roared into PlayhouseSquare for its run at the State Theatre, and is playing now through August 4, 2013.
The performers, musicians and overall presentation pack a powerful pounce in this production, which tells the story of the lion Simba and his journey from lion cub to outcast to hero. From the resonant opening phrase of the well-known “The Circle of Life” to the playful “Hakuna Matata” and the haunting “He Lives in Me”, the tour and all of its elements are an astounding treat for all ages.
The live version of “The Lion King”, which comes from the 1994 animated Disney film of the same title, opened on Broadway in 1997 and won six Tony Awards including Best Musical.
From the moment the first creatures and people hit the stage, the tour lights up the theatre with sounds and images that take the audience to the heart of Africa.
There are many facets of this production that stand out. The dancing is enthusiastic, masterful and mesmerizing. The adult vocals are powerful and poignant. The orchestra’s sound is captivating and energizing. The lights and set are rich and robust.
Some of the most enthralling sights of the tour are the signature life-sized puppets that bring the animal kingdom to life right on the stage. A giant elephant, stilt-walking giraffes, herds of antelopes, birds and others proudly parade the theater aisles and stage with awe-inspiring pageantry.
Many say “The Lion King” is a musical version of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, set in the jungle. With a huge cast and a story for the ages, “The Lion King” is a classic tale of good versus evil, the battle for power, and of finding oneself in the process.
This version of the fifth longest-running musical in Broadway history features the commanding vocalist Tshidi Manye as Rafiki, the powerful presentation of L. Steven Taylor as Mufasa, the goofy antics of Andrew Gorell as the bird Zazu, the dark-sided plotting of Patrick R. Brown as Scar, the charismatic Jelani Remy as Simba, and the lovely Nia Holloway as Nala. Not to be forgotten is the comic relief duo of Nick Cordileone as Timon and Ben Lipitz as Pumbaa – hysterical. Four child actors are also part of the tour in rotation as Young Simba and Young Nala
The child performer vocals and acting need a bit more “oomph”, and the hyena puppets themselves are a bit lack-luster compared to the rest of the phenomenal production surrounding them, but overall the entire presentation is stunning. Whereas Simba sings “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King”, it’s obvious that “The Lion King” already is.
Whether you want to re-visit your love of the film or make new memories with friends and family, stampede over to the State Theatre at PlayhouseSquare for an evening you’ll never forget!
“The Lion King” is playing now through August 4, 2013. Tickets are still available at the PlayhouseSquare Ticket Office by calling 216-241-6000 or by going online to www.PlayhouseSquare.org.