Over 85 million people from around the globe have seen The Lion King stage production. It’s in its 19th year and shows little signs of slowing down. The famous story of a relationship between a lion cub and his father, as well as the circle of life, is a theme almost everyone can relate to. Last night’s performance was my fourth time seeing the show. I was used to crying throughout the touching performance but last night the tears started rolling down after the first number. After reeling in the news regarding Philando Castile earlier that day, the story of a child who wrongfully loses his father and has to find his way without him easily struck a nerve. The beauty in the production, from the writing to the costumes and special effects, provided me an opportunity to fully immerse myself in the emotional, yet positive vibes resonating through the theater.
The cast was spectacular. It’s hard to pick a standout but I almost instantly fell in love with Nala (played by Nia Holloway). Her voice is as pure as her character. You won’t be disappointed with the talent selected for these iconic characters!
The show is largely perfection, carried out repetitively and without variation through the years. For whatever reason, this time they decided to add some sexy shirtless hyennas that did a club go-go dancer-equse number. I also don’t recall the incredibly creepy scene where the old villain Scar attempts to get a significantly younger Nala as his wife so she can breed him a lot of heirs. These scenes are entirely unnecessary, a bit gross and not exactly what I’d want my child seeing. A few other modern jokes were sprinkled in to keep it fresh and they were really nicely integrated with the existing material.
Another nitpicky critique is that I felt the vocal performances were a bit restrained at times. If you’re like me and listen to the Broadway cast recording frequently, you’ll note particular places in the songs where the characters have an opportunity to get deep and belt out emotional notes. Its not that these notes weren’t sung strong last night, but I felt as if they weren’t as strong as they could have been if there wasn’t a long tour ahead.
SPECIAL ALERT: The July 30th performance will be a special “sensory friendly” performance! This incredible opportunity will keep the house lights on at a low level, include trained volunteers and professionals, designated quite spaces and activity areas, lower sound levels and more.
The Lion King is at The Orpheum Theatre through August 7th. Tickets start at $49.
Photo by Matthew Murray