While most people know the story of The Lion King, everyone needs to experience musical stage version. The production is currently here in the Motor City at the Detroit Opera House until March 10th and the show is not one to be missed!
When Detroit native John Sloan III was interviewed for the preview of the show before it came here, he said, "it's a really brilliant piece of work in itself and obviously the 'Circle of Life' is one of the best openings in musical theatre history." Sloan was completely right. 'Circle of Life' really is one of the best openings in musical theatre history and is absolutely brilliant in every way. From the second Rafiki (Buyi Zama) steps on stage the crowd was silent and within a few moments the audience is fully encompassed by the entire show as cast members are on stage, in the aisles of the main floor, and throughout the upper tiers of the theatre. Not only is the singing and music beautiful in the first number to start the show, the audience is entertained through all sorts imagery from the costumes to stilt walkers to puppetry, it is the start to an amazing, magical event.
Zama is a fantastic Rafiki. She is a South African native and plays the role with such fun and passion while speaking in English and different African dialects. Her singing voice is so strong and beautiful that it emotionally affects the audience especially during the number 'He Lives In You.'
Timothy Carter plays the villainous Scar and does a superb job at the role. His acting and movement really enforce the character and make him memorable. 'Be Prepared' is definitely one of the stand out numbers of the show just because of his fabulous singing voice that takes over the entire theatre.
The show has many other fantastic numbers and remarkable characters. When Jelani Remy (Adult Simba) sings 'Endless Night,' he takes commands the entire stage with his presence and powerful voice that resonates throughout the entire theater. Syndee Winters is amazing as Adult Nala, especially in her solo number of 'Shadowland,' which is filled with emotion and soul. Mufasa, Dionne Randolph, is fierce and strong on stage. His number, 'They Live In You,' is beautifully performed.
The puppetry work of actors is phenomenal. Mark David Kaplan as Zazu is hilarious and perfect. Nick Cordileone and Ben Lipitz play their respective roles of Timon and Pumbaa better than their movie counterparts and make the audience laugh every moment they are on stage. The ensemble of the show also does a fantastic job with the puppetry throughout the entirety of the show, especially when they are all being different animals. The audience really feels like they are watching lions, hyenas, elephants, giraffes, gazelles, leopards, and other animals on stage.
The entire show is just one huge spectacle after another. From the singing to the dancing to the acting, every part is done exceptionally well and thought out to the tiniest detail. The costumes and set are amazing to see and the way the show uses both the stage and the entire theatre is definitely one of a kind experience. The Lion King would not be the show it is, if it did not have such a great company to perform it. This tour is well casted and they perform together very well.
The Lion King should not be missed. It is a show that everyone should go see, whether they are an adult or a child because it is a show that anyone can enjoy. The creativeness of the production makes it a joy to watch and the story is one that any person can connect with.
The Lion King is currently running through March 10th at the Detroit Opera House. For more information or tickets, visit www.broadwayindetroit.com.