The Lion King: Awesome

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, April 13, 2011, 11:25 PM | comments: 0

Went to see The Lion King on stage at Mandalay Bay tonight. It was completely awesome. Not perfect, exactly, but definitely amazing.

I remember the feeling I had when the opening sequence ended the first time I saw the movie. It blew my mind. Similarly, the stage show has the same effect. It's easily the most beautiful thing I've ever seen staged. The sets aren't the most complicated thing, but the costumes are completely amazing.

Musically, the show is almost entirely composed of music from the movie, and the Rhythm of The Pridelands "inspired by" soundtrack. In fact, I thought the latter was in a lot of ways better, because it had the Lebo M "African flavor" that was frankly the soul of the movie. The second act starts with "One By One," with the chorus spread around in the audience, and frankly I found that even more mind blowing than the opening "Circle of Life."

The kids that performed tonight as young Simba and Nala were shockingly good. Their grown-up counterparts were even better. The singer who did adult Nala in particular did a song called "Shadowland," an adaptation of "Lea Halalela" from Rhythm, that I couldn't believe. Granted, I was eight rows from the stage, but I could hear her directly over the sound from the PA. Amazing. The actor playing Mufasa was excellent, as was Scar (though he sounded almost too much like Jeremy Irons from the original part).

Given that everyone knows the film, even when it opened a dozen years ago or whatever it was, I had to wonder what they would do for stage version. They borrow heavily from the screenplay, but add some good stuff to it. There was one additional scene that seemed completely out of place, where Scar decides he wants to hookup with Nala. It was creepy and jarring. They also added a song that the hyenas do that isn't very good.

Overall though, it might be the afterglow, but it could be the best musical I've seen. I was really into it. I'd like to get back to Vegas before the end of the year to see it again, especially with Diana.



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