We all have grown to know and love Disney throughout our childhoods, but many forget or don’t know about all of the stage adaptations that Disney has. One of Disney’s classics, The Lion King, brings the entire audience right back to being young and being amazed by everything. The Lion King has a special place in Minnesota’s heart because it originally opened at the Orpheum Theater. It came back just as strong as before and was the king of Hennepin Avenue. The puppetry, movements, and vocal talent make this a show that you don’t want to miss.
From the very first note, the cast, especially Rafiki (Buyi Zama) had the entire audience involved in the animal kingdom. This was also due to the fact that the audience was a part of the animal kingdom because of the use of the aisles. I often feel that actors coming up the aisles to get to the stage is cheesy and over-done, but animals coming up the sides is a completely different story. As Zama sang the infamous words of “Nants’ Ingonyama,” the animals came onto the stage one by one. I was entranced by the giraffes on stilts, played by Gabriel Croom and Derrick Spear. The audience also loved the elephant, which was equally amazing. The voices in the chorus blended together beautifully. There were several parts in which the chorus sang from offstage while the main characters acted on stage. I thought it was beautiful that even without being onstage, they still left a lasting impression. Nala (Nia Holloway) had a very sweet voice that carried the melody of each song wonderfully. Simba (Aaron Nelson) blended with Nala and the two had great stage chemistry. There were several other actors that were noteworthy with their puppetry as well.
When I walked into the theater and noticed that there were drums in the house, my first thought was that it would be hard for the orchestra conductor to conduct the drummers from so far away from the pit. To my delight, they kept in time for the entire show. Conductor Rick Snyder did a wonderful job.
Another noticeable thing was the colors of the lighting and sets working together. The dark colors of Scar’s rule paired with the grey-toned costumes made the mood darker and more ominous. At the high energy parts of the production, such as “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” and the reprise of “He Lives in You” were colorful and lively. It was a part that I both appreciated and enjoyed.
The only technical error I noticed was the microphone balance at the beginning of most of the songs. It was hard to hear soloists over the chorus, but during most of the songs it got to a good balance.
Overall, the production was phenomenal. The entire kingdom of theater elements worked in harmony to produce an enjoyable experience for the entire audience. The Lion King is in its home city until August 7th, so get your tickets today.