Friday, February 20, 2009

The Lion King

Last night I attended the touring production of The Lion King at the Paramount.  While this show has been around for a while now, this is actually the first time I've seen it.  While some shows have brilliant music (which tends to be weighted much more highly in my reviews than other factors), this show definitely had what I would consider one of the greatest theatrical experiences I've seen.  

As I think back to when The Lion King animated movie originally was released--which turns out to be 1994 believe it or not--I can't tell you how many times I've seen the movie over the past 15 years.  I'm pretty sure I have the original movie soundtrack on CD somewhere around, though haven't listened to it in ages.  But if you're expecting the musical to have the same music as the movie, you're partially mistaken.  Sure the big numbers from the movie are still there, but a handful of new material has also been added, which frankly contributes a lot to the musical production.  Obviously the story line is mangled a bit for the stage, cutting out some filler from the movie and adding some new material to tie up the loose ends.  

I so often use the term "theatrical spectacle" to describe shows that may not have the greatest music or story lines, but more than make up for it in the visual stage experience.  This show is the rare package deal, with great music, a reasonable story line, and the show to go with it.  It's no surprise, given that Disney produced the stage show, that the experience is as amazing as it is.  As a connaisseur of the finest theme park attractions Disney has to offer, think of this show as its own 2.5-hour ride that they delivered to the theatre.  

Despite all of the great things I have to say about it, I can't say it's the best musical I've seen, or even one that I'd choose above others to see again if given the option.  In this case, it's definitely a show I'd say everyone should see once, but now I've seen it and don't really need to see it again.  Not that I wouldn't, but I wouldn't be chomping at the bit to see it.  

Onto the ratings...

Music - 5 Stars - The songs were great, and you could listen to them again.
Cast - 4 Stars - Rafiki, Scar and the young Simba were definitely the high points.  
Technical - 5 Stars - The mark of a true Broadway spectacle
Story - 4 Stars - It is what it is
Overall - 4 Stars - But you should see it anyway. :) 

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