March 26, 2010
Disney’s THE LIONKING at Academy of Music
THE LIONKING continues to reign as one of the most popular shows on Broadway and around the world. Now in its 13th year, THE LIONKING is the eighth longest-running musical in Broadway history and the first American musical to welcome 50 million guests worldwide. The global phenomenon is the winner of more than 70 major awards worldwide, including the 1998 Tony Award® and NY Drama Critics Award for Best Musical, the 1999 Grammy® for Best Musical Show Album, and the 1999 Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Choreography and Best Costume Design.
For those of use who grew up on Disney films, the story of "The Lion King" is very familiar, as are the songs that run through the movie like "Circle of Life" and "Oh I just can't wait to be king." It's the story of a young lion cub who is the heir to the throne, but battling for that spot on the throne is his evil uncle "scar," who he must eventually face. It's a wonderful story that kids and adults alike would enjoy. The musical score in this show features Elton John and Tim Rice's music from the animated film along with three new songs by John and Rice, additional musical material by South African Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Julie Taymor and Hans Zimmer.
The first thing that you notice about this show is the costume design, so I have to congratulate those involved in this performance aspect on an excellent job. They find a way to make 5 or 6 foot human beings appear to be 9 foot tall giraffes, or gazelle's leaping through the African plains. I love the use of movement and texture in all of the costumes; it's an aesthetically interesting show for sure!
I loved how they used the tiers and the aisles to expand their stage. The show starts out with animals, big and small, coming down the aisles so you have a chance to see the costumes up close and the kids will absolutely love this part. They are close enough to touch, but I wouldn't recommend reaching out to do so. Elephants coming down the aisle, birds flying around in the air (with the actors on the second and third tiers). It's truly impressive!
I've seen a handful of shows on and off Broadway, and this one if probably one of my favorite shows. The set design and costume design is very impressive, and while the emotional impact of the show is not as high as some others such as Wicked and Les Miserables, it was incredibly entertaining and well done. I particularly enjoyed the actors who played the roles of Scar and Mufasa. Their voices and performance were impressive, and I enjoyed young Nala's performance as well. For such a young girl, she definitely has a gift of acting. I would definitely recommend seeing it-It will be well worth the money! Your kids will love pointing out all the familiar characters from the movie, and the humor of the show will be appreciated by the adults in the audience.
Tickets to THE LIONKING are by calling 215-731-3333, online at http://www.kimmelcenter.org/ at the Kimmel Center box office, Broad & Spruce Sts. (open daily 10 am to 6 pm) or on performance days only at the Academy of Music box office. Ticket prices for the engagement start as low as $23. Premium Ticket Packages, which include prime seat locations, a commemorative souvenir program and an exclusive merchandise item, are also available.
For those of you who are NOT local to the Philadelphia, PA area here is some great news:
Following the Philadelphia engagement, THE LIONKING North American tour will also play the following venues and cities in 2010: the Overture Center in Madison, WI, the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, CA, Keller Auditorium in Portland, OR, the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver, B.C., the Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City, UT, the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago, IL and Schuster Hall in Dayton, OH. Future engagements to be announced. For more information and dates, please visit LionKing.com
Disclaimer: I was provided with 2 tickets in exchange for my review of this show, no monetary compensation
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