REVIEW: Disney’s The Lion King

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L. Steven Taylor as “Mufasa” in THE LION KING National Tour. (c) Disney. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus.

 

There are certain milestones one must achieve to be fully immersed in musical theatre culture. For instance, everyone has to see their first musical. One must experience their first professional production. Everyone needs to see the biggies, too, right? OKLAHOMA, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, WICKED and all that.

And everyone needs to see Disney’s THE LION KING. This is an achievement in theatrical entertainment, a pure spectacle and a feast for the senses. And I’ve finally passed this milestone with the National Tour returning to Cincinnati at the Aronoff Center.

We all know the story. A sort of modern take on HAMLET, originally written as a cartoon, and now produced with such elegance and style – and expense – that people of all ages line up for it again and again. And of course, they do. It’s superb.

My favorite parts of the show are the exquisite lighting, the remarkable dancing, and the gorgeous puppetry. My favorite performances the particular evening that I saw the show were from Patrick R. Brown as “Scar,” Tshidi Manye as “Rafiki,” and L. Steven Taylor as “Mufasa.” Taylor has some kind of presence – and voice. It’s a shame we don’t get to see him at all in Act Two.  I also enjoyed the young pair of Simba and Nala, though its unclear which actors we saw on Wednesday night.  The orchestra sounded great and the conductor was extraordinarily fun to watch.

It’s a hot ticket and most performances are nearly sold out despite the extended run.  This speaks to the enduring popularity of the show; I know that its one I could watch again and again.  I’m eternally grateful to Elizabeth and folks at Broadway Across America Cincinnati for the invitation and the perfect seats.  I strongly recommend their 2015-2016 season, by the way, and you should subscribe now so you don’t miss any of the offerings coming next year (MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL, PIPPIN, CABARET, WHITE CHRISTMAS, KINKY BOOTS, NEWSIES, and IF/THEN).

DISNEY’S THE LION KING runs through April 26th at the Aronoff Center for the Arts in Downtown Cincinnati. Click here for more information.

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