Broadway’s ‘Lion King’ in Boston stuns


Photo Taken From: The Lion King WWW Archive

A banner of the "Lion King' production

Keertana Gangireddy, Photography Editor

As a staple of American culture, Disney’s The Lion King became a common household name when it first came out in 1994. Simba’s tale has since been adapted into a popular Broadway show, which is now playing almost every day in the Boston Opera House until October 27.

Directed by Julie Taymor, the play brought the original cartoon movie to life. It included two acts, the first one, with thirteen scenes, and the second much shorter, with seven.The cast was primarily African-American, to gain accuracy to the true origins of the story.

Visually, the main highlight of the play was the costumes, designed by Julie Taymor. The hyenas, Mufasa, and Scar were masterfully done, with an extension looming over their heads, and resting right in front of their face, giving a ‘3D’, realistic portrayal of a mask.  Generally, all the costumes  incorporated an abundance of African culture and bright colors, which added greatly to the originality of the play.

The production stayed true to the film, while adding a slight modern twist. The cast, mainly Zazu (Greg Jackson), Timon (Jordan Samuels) and Pumbaa (Ben Lipitz), never failed to make the audience burst out in laughter with their contemporary humor.

Each song in the play was crafted with impressive precision. The magic of associate choreographer Marey Griffith, and music director James Dodson, along with the beautiful vocals of each and every cast and ensemble member blended into absolute perfection.

“I Just Can’t Wait to Be King”, sung mainly by Walter Russell III and Celina Smith, who play young Simba and young Nala respectively, was especially impressive, considering the age of the actors.

“He Lives in You”, sung right after Simba’s (Jared Dixon) encounter with Rafiki (Buyi Zama), was perhaps the most spectacular performance in the entirety of the play. The blend of their voices along with the ensemble was absolutely beautiful. Visually, the set was very aesthetically pleasing, and the bright colors of the props and costumes stunned.

Mufasa’s death was the only scene that fell below the mark. Although the background music and setting was incredible, and the orchestra conveyed the intensity, the scene itself felt rushed. Ramsey (Mufasa) and Plachy (Scar) failed to bring out emotion, and their acting was slightly flat. The whole setup was slightly awkward, with the majority of the action on the side of the stage. Considering how powerful and significant the scene is, it could have been delivered with slightly more passion.

Also, considering that it was a Broadway production, the set felt mediocre at times. Several sets, including the presentation of Simba, and the jungle could have perhaps been replicated by a high school theater group.

Regardless of the few minor details that were off-putting, the ‘Lion King’ on Broadway was an incredible experience, and didn’t let down in most aspects of the production. The play brought a family favorite to life effortlessly, and stunned with incredible performances from its talented cast. Each and every cent spent on tickets (which were slightly expensive) was worth it, and if I had the choice, I would gladly see the play once more.