Jelani Remy as Simba, and the ensemble, from the National touring company in “He Lives In You”. Photo by Joan Marcus.
From the time the curtain goes up until the the final cast bow you
are in the world of Julie Taymor who directed, wrote additional lyrics
and music (with Elton John, Tim Rice, Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin
and Hans Zimmer), did the costume design, the mask and puppet design
(with Michael Curry). Though it is called “Disney’s The Lion King”, and
is based on their animated film of 1994, when it opened on Broadway in
1997, where it is still running 18 years later, by all rights it should
have her name above the title!
Having now played to over 64 million people in 19 countries and
becoming the top earning production ever from Broadway and films, aside
from 3 tunes that Elton John and Tom Rice, people always talk about and
remember the ‘animals’ they saw, especially the opening number when they
march down the aisles of the auditorium.
Throughout the show your eyes are caught by the props, masks and
costumes that the over 50 actors wear, move and dance in. During “Can
You Feel The Love Tonight”, “The Circle of Life” or “Hakuna Matata” you
are looking at the animation and the handling of the masks as they sing.
The choreography by Garth Fagan puts a strain on the masks, outfits and
movements of the performers but all works smoothly.
The cast from L. Steven Taylor as Mufasa, the father of Simba,
played by Jelani Remy, and Patrick R. Brown as his uncle Scar to Nia
Holloway as Simba’s love interest, along with the ensemble, are all
strong in their rolls. Two standouts are Nick Cordileone as a meerkat
and Ben Lipitz as a warthog who bring much needed humor to the show
without stepping over the line.
All the production values, including the lighting design by Donald
Holder and the scenic design by Richard Hudson are what you would
expect, and get, from a Disney production.
“ Disney’s The Lion King” (though I prefer calling it Taymor’s The
Lion King) is a must see show that will have your imagination spinning.
The show will be at the Broward Performing Arts Center in Fort Lauderdale until February 1.