Having heard about Disney’s The Lion King, I knew that it would be something special, but until I saw it, I didn’t know how phenomenal it would be. The musical, which has returned to Atlanta, is making its Fox Theatre debut.
Based on the beloved movie, the musical features new songs and an updated storyline that expands the plot and characters in the show. Winner of six Tony Awards®, The Lion King stands as one of Broadway’s highest-grossing and longest-running musicals.
The score includes favorites such as “Hakuna Matata,” “The Circle of Life” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” alongside new songs like the hauntingly beautiful “Shadowland.” With its technically impressive set and staging, the show is visually stunning.
Before curtain there was a sense of electricity in the air, a feeling normally felt at a concert instead of a Broadway musical. Once the opening notes of the “Circle of Life” began, applause filled the theater. A second ovation erupted at the appearance of elephants, birds, monkeys and other animals parading down the center aisles to take the stage.
The intensity never waned. The flawless production on stage did nothing to halter it. Every aspect of the production clicked from the lighting to costumes to the exquisite puppetry. The talent on stage is nothing short of amazing.
While in the film Rafiki is a male, in the stage version, the role is played is by a female, and Brown Lindiwe Mkhize gives a remarkable performance that captures the character well. Vocally, she is mesmerizing in “The Circle of Life.” As the villainous Scar, Patrick R. Brown is captivating. Plus, Nick Cordileone (Timon) and Ben Lipitz (Pumbaa) are engaging and hilarious as the fan-favorite duo.
As the adult Simba and Nala, Jalani Remy and Nia Holloway have an undeniable chemistry. In addition, each one commands the stage. Both have an opportunity to showcase their vocal abilities in moving solo performances (“Endless Night” for Remy and “Shadowland” for Holloway).
A highlight of this season’s shows, The Lion King is truly a don’t miss production and a one-of-a-kind theatrical experience. The musical, part of the Fifth Third Bank Broadway in Atlanta series, plays at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre through April 27, 2014. For more information, please visit Broadway in Atlanta’s website. Tickets are available online, at the Fox Theatre box office, and by phone at 855-285-8499. The show’s runtime is a little over two and half hours with an intermission.
– Kenny Norton