What can I say about “The Lion King”? Well, I can say that it definitely lived up to its expectations.
“The Lion King” now playing at the Durham Performing Arts Center, has been the talk of musical theatre enthusiasts since it first opened on Broadway in 1997. And DPAC audiences were excited when tickets went on sale for the show; hundreds even camped outside the theatre to get their hands on tickets when they went on sale to the general public in October 2010.
I had seen performance previews of the show when touring productions would make appearances on the talk show circuit, so I knew this was going to be a grand production. And it was!
This show literally used up every available space of the theatre and really showcases the venue’s versatility. Several changes to the venue were needed to put on a show of this magnitude and the DPAC took care of those needs by removing handrails in the aisle and removing orchestra seats to make room for two staircases leading up the stage. It just goes to show that this venue is committed to bring big name acts to the Triangle.
The show’s opening number “Circle of Life” really sets the stage for the whole show. It begins with Rafiki (Ntomb’Khona Dlamini) ushering in the new day and a new life. Then one by one in comes the animals, from the towering giraffes to the leaping antelopes, they all come onto the stage. But then the house lights come up and here comes more of Pride Rock’s animals down the aisles as they sing their way up the stairs leading to the stage.
I enjoyed seeing the audience’s reactions as they clapped and gazed in awe as these life-like animals came down. It gave me the chills, to be honest.
Peter Marks of the Washington Post wrote: “No matter how many times you see it, the opening number, “Circle of Life,” in which the ensemble becomes one with the Serengeti menagerie…is pure enchantment.”
What I love about this show is that these performers aren’t only singers and dancers, they are also puppeteers. They have to be able to use their skills to make these characters come to life on stage. Zazu (Tony Freeman), Timone (Nick Cordileone), and Pumbaa (Ben Lipitz) were all such believable characters, thanks to their human counterparts. For a while there I forgot there were these real human beings moving and pulling and tugging to make these animated characters real. This brings me to my next topic.
The costumes and the set are amazing! Every costume is designed for a purpose. Whether it’s to portray an animal or to be the rolling grass hills, the costumes invoke movement and imagination. And the costumes stick to the story’s African theme.
The show’s musical numbers are great. I mean, what else can you expect from music that was written by Elton John and Tim Rice? Although I was a little disappointed with songs “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” and “Hankuna Matata”, I was just expecting a little more from them. After seeing how big “Circle of Life” was and knowing that those other two songs were fast paced songs, I just thought it should have been a little more over the top.
Other than that, it was a good show. It’s a great show to take the entire family to and there’s a lot going on so you can be rest assured that your child won’t lose interest. This is one show that if you have the opportunity to do so, you’ll want to see multiple times. This is one of those show’s that if you don’t go see it, you’ll be missing out, because this is the show that Triangle audiences will be talking about for quite some time.
Have you seen the show? I would like to hear what you thought about it. Please share your experience by posting a comment below.