Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Theatre Review: The Lion King - Toronto

Brown Lindiwe Mkhize as “Rafiki” in the opening number “The Circle of Life” from THE LION KING National Tour. ©Disney
By: Alison Silveira

There is truly nothing like seeing the creative spectacle that is The Lion King live on stage. Tony award winning visionary, Julie Taymor creatively pushes theatrical boundaries as she brings wild animals of the jungle to life through intricate manipulations of puppets and shadow puppetry in her artistically dazzling adaptation of Disney's hit movie musical. 

Themes of betrayal, loyalty, redemption, and love are explored as the young lion cub, Simba is blamed for his beloved father Mufasa's death by his villainous uncle Scar. Scar's plan of assuming the kingship of Pride Rock is thwarted when the once exiled Simba returns to claim his rightful place as true king. 
Jelani Remy as “Simba” from THE LION KING National Tour. ©Disney.
Brown Lindiwe Mkhize majestically opens the show with her powerful vocals as the wise sage, Rafiki. Jelani Remy as Simba shines on stage in the title role. His spritely enthusiasm and energy is limitless as he effortlessly leaps in the air and conquers the stage with his dominating presence. Patrick R. Brown, brilliantly portrays the devious character of Scar, who at the same time evokes loathing and pity from the audience. Nick Cordileone is irresistibly comical as Simba's confidant and sidekick, Timon. 
Jelani Remy as “Simba” and the ensemble in “He Lives in You” from THE LION KING National Tour. ©Disney. 
African chants, songs sung a cappella, and power ballads are integral parts of the storytelling. Classic songs such as "Circle of Life" and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" are composed by the legendary Elton John and his writing partner, Tim Rice, who also received Tony awards for best original score. The cast as a whole brings magic to the stage as they depict wildlife with graceful, rhythmic movements and sing in perfect harmony.  

The Lion King is a groundbreaking musical worth seeing for Taymor's brilliant innovation in theatrical staging alone. Children and adults alike will be captivated, inspired even, by the enchanting, regal sights that unfold before them. 

Starring Jelani Remy, Patrick R. Brown, L. Steven Taylor, and Nia Holloway
Directed by Julie Taymor
Music and lyrics by Elton John and Tim Rice
Book by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi
Choreography by Garth Fagan
The Lion King plays at the Princess of Wales Theatre until June 15, 2014.
Photos by Joan Marcus

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