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The Lion King
a Musical
CATEGORY :
by Book by Roger Allers & Irene Mecchi, Music by Sir Elton John, Lyrics by Sir Tim Rice

COMPANY : Broadway Across America [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Atlanta Civic Center
ID# 2775

SHOWING : April 03, 2008 - May 04, 2008

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Can you feel the Love Tonight? Disney's "The Lion King" comes back to Atlanta. Join Simba, Nala, and their friends for this Award-Winning Disney Extravaganza!


CAST & CREW LIST
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REVIEWS

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The Mane Event
by Dedalus
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
4.5
I was very tempted to call this posting “Can You Feel The Strain Tonight,” in honor of the “Forbidden Broadway” “Lion King” parody, but, truth to tell, the strains are minor and the show still packs a heck of a punch. The songs stick in your head, the energy sparkles, and the production pulls out all the Disney-financed stops to not only recreate one of their cash cow movies, but to actually improve on it.

Let me start by confessing I was unimpressed when I saw this show in New York. I was not-so-blessed with an over-priced bad seat (Third Row orchestra purchased through a hotel broker, but on extreme house left). Bad, because sight lines hid most of the set (including “Pride Rock”) from me, making the stampede and most of the final battle totally invisible. I daresay, this problem doesn’t happen in the more less-curved Civic Center venue, but, this time, I was in the center section and could now see what I missed.

If the puppetry now seems the slightest bit awkward from over-exposure, if the more Africa-centric musical additions suggest grafted add-on more than blended enhancement, I say, so what? The originality of the concept still shines ten years later. The basic appeal of the story is still miles ahead of anything new coming out of the Disney Factory. The sheer theatricality of the event is a stark reminder that theatre has plenty to offer that movies and videos can never hope to match. And the dialog proves, if nothing else, that fart jokes never grow stale.

I won’t waste space here by recapping the story – if you’re the type of person who would be reading this, there’s very little chance you don’t already know it. Suffice it to say, “Lion King” (the musical) takes the basic outline of “Lion King” (the animated movie), puts human faces on all the characters through original puppetry, adds musical moments from a variety of African sources (songs are in no fewer than five languages, if my memory serves), and coats it all with a spectacle that brings out the awe-inspired kid in all of us.

Moments that stand out include the opening sunrise that pulls us into the world of larger-than-life puppets (a wonderful device to “adapt” us to the show that is to follow), the birds swooping over our heads at the start of Act Two (watching the expression on my daughter’s face during this number was a highlight for me this time around), the aerial ballet in “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” the enthralling “Mufassa Head” sequence for the reprise of “He Lives in You,” and the final confrontation between Simba and Scar. These are moments I suspect will never grow old for me.

As expected, the entire cast hit all their notes right -- the comic characters are funny without upstaging, the evil characters draw hisses during curtain call, and the emotional highs and lows are just as they should be. As expected, the awesome spectacle enhances without upstaging the story, and the music – even the African lyrics we don’t understand – sticks in our heads in that good way old favorites enjoy. And, as a bonus, the show zips by much more quickly than the movie version (even though its actual running time is almost twice as long).

My daughter was not very excited about seeing this show with me. She’s not a fan of the movie (“It’s a story for boys”), her lovely and talented mother couldn’t come with us, and we had seen one show together already that day. Julia sat spellbound throughout, cried to be put on my shoulders so she could see the cast during the standing-ovation curtain call, looked through the souvenir program all the way home, and wants to see it again.

Show me a movie that can do that!

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)

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