The Lion King at the Mandalay Bay Theater in
For director Julie Taymor The Lion King continues to be a passion project. In the program her credits include: Director, costume design, masks/puppet co-design, and additional lyrics.
Together they transport the audience to Africa where the animals make us realize that, as the hit song implies, we are all part of “The Circle of Life” (opening photo).
The costumes, masks and puppetry add a classic, almost Kabuki grace to the jungle. There are no live animals in the show. And, it is not just family fare. One might conclude that because it’s a Disney production it’s geared towards children. Not true. The Lion King touches people of all ages and backgrounds. The theme is universal — family, loyalty, betrayal and redemption — life and death.
Ironically, the Lion King examines the best and worst instincts of human nature.
There’s plenty of comic relief along the way. Patrick Kerr as Zazu, the wisecracking bird, a nervous narrating mainstay of many Disney projects; Damian Baldet as Timon and Adam Kozlowski as Pumba add the old vaudevillian/new Disney guffaws.
One of my pet peeves has always been the way
The first act — a touch long — ends with “Hakuna Matata”, a favorite that has become part of every movie/theater-goers musical vocabulary.
The second act moves more quickly. Simba (Clifton Oliver) brings his Broadway experience to bear, embodying the young adult lion. Nala (Kissy Simmons) is equally catlike. They’re a dynamic duo, and when they sing, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”, we do.
Just as we want our leaders to stop global warming, and turn the economy around, we want Simba and Nala to right their broken world. If you’re in search of a happy ending, “The Circle of Life” will rejuvenate you.
The theatrical mechanics, puppetry, set design, masks and costumes are reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil, and the result is a simply stunning visual experience. Add music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice, and music and lyrics by Africian singer/composer Lebo M who is known as “the voice and spirit of the Lion King”, and you leave the theater with a sense of enchantment.
Will the Lion King appeal to
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