re: The Lion King North American Tour Review!!!The Rafiki is AMAZING!

I am not one to review shows that I have seen. Especially a show that I have seen a million times on Broadway. But going to support my fellow actors I came across a really good touring cast. I won't really go into it because I am sure everyone pretty much has seen this show. But I will tell you that it would be in your best interest to try and see this cast. More importantly for the Rafiki. She is absolutely AMAZING! Phindile Mkhize brought life to this role that I haven't seen from a Rafiki in a long time.

We can start with her voice which is to say the least BRILLIANT! Range..control! She clearly stole the show! This is already a very good role..but with the right person. I literally was looking forward to her coming back on stage! Usually Rafiki's I have seen are only good at one thing..but her comedic timing was great as well! She really put a new stamp on the character and I loved her! But her voice!!!!...being a performer I really appreciate a nice sound...especially at the matinee! Thats not easy! She blew me away! We should see her on the Great White Way real soon! I would put her right up there with the original Rafiki..if not better, and thats going some!

Now if it wasn't for her I'm not sure how much I would have enjoyed it. Simba(Dashaun Young) was pretty good! One of the best I have seen! Also a good voice and brought life to the role! Nala(Ta'rea Campbell) also was pretty good and had an amazing voice as well! Both of them should be on Broadway in this role soon! Scar(Timothy Carter) was pretty much okay! I have seen better he could have added a little more to the role! Pumbaa(Ben Liptitz) was also good..not memorable though! Also I have seen some really good Timons but to the norm (Mark Shunock) does the job...that also goes for Mufasa(Dionne Randolph) but come on! Has anyone ever topped Samuel?..I haven't seen it! LOL!

Banzai(Randy Donaldson..who is also an amazing dancer), Shenzi(Jayne Trinette), and Ed(Michael Nathanson) were all in all pretty funny together. I still prefer the Tracy Nicole version of Shenzi. But they kept me laughing. I'm not sure which of the Young Nala and Young Simba were on..but they both were equally pretty good! With nice voices!

I will say that the ensemble singers did not ever give me that full sound that I was soooo use to hearing. Which was kinda aggravating..also the dancers seemed to be a little well tired! But if you haven't seen the Broadway version you are still in for a treat! And if you have..I think you would still enjoy it! The Rafiki alone is worth going to see! Trust me! She is AMAZING! I cant stress this enough!
Updated On: 4/26/08 at 07:10 PM
Dancin Thru Life Profile Photo
Dancin Thru Life
Broadway Star
Glad you liked it, but what happened to my favorite character - ZAZU???
"To love another person is to see the face of God!"
musicandtemiror Profile Photo
Leading Actor
I totally wish I saw her
I saw her understudy about 2 years ago
Of course! How could I forget Tony Freeman..thanks for reminding me! Especially since he was a joy to watch! I have seen him in the Broadway cast a couple of times. He was always on and this night was no exception! He did a great job! I was happy to see his name in the program because I knew how good his Zazu was! So yes I quite enjoyed him as always! Sorry!
antonijan Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
I hope they make a stop in San Francisco again.
LouieLovesTheater Profile Photo
Leading Actor
Totally agree!

I've seen her twice now. The first time she was an understudy and the most recent time she was full-time.

For a show that's largely based on spectacle I think it's very easy to lose track of the performances. She really brings that character to the forefront.

Her "He Lives in You: Reprise" gives me chills. She's a fantastic talent.
Chorus Member
What about Tshidi Manye? She is on tour now.
Justin D Profile Photo
Justin D
Broadway Legend
Its a bit hard to compare Tshidi Manye to Phindile vocally, T****i has been on Broadway since like 2007 (and Toronto before that, where I first saw her) Tshidi is full of energy but most of the time unfirtunately her voice can be a bit rough. But bless her I love her.

What sort of bugs me over the years has been "He lives in you" Early on that song had a fair amount of improv for Rafiki, with the chanting, but around 2002 they standardized the chanting and that sort of killed the energy most of the time, and half of the times I've seen Tshidi, she didnt even bother with alot of the chanting in that song, maybe she has been there too long and just does not get into the moment anymore.

But, at least they seem to have realized too early on that you need an authentic Rafiki who really knows the languages in the chants to pull it off convincingly and they seem to have stopped casting 'westerners' in the role full time, who then have to learn all the dialect and clicks and all that, but at the cost of having the same Rafiki in a role for years and years at a stretch, Tshidi and the lady who just left the tour to go back to London has been in the role forever Phantom at the Royal Empire Theatre
bwayphreak234 Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
I saw the tour last fall. Everything about the production was boring and lackluster beyond belief. Phindile Mkhinze did absolutely nothing for me. Neither did anyone else in the cast. The whole thing felt phoned in.
"There’s nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. "
Chorus Member
I'm sad to hear that Tshidi's performance didn't do as much for you. I have met her and she has given me 3 backstage tours. She is a lovely person and while her rendition of He Lives in You has gone downhill, it used to be spine tingling. But her Nants ingonyama is very powerful and should sound rough anyways. Also, she hits every note perfectly during Circle of life. She is a lovely person. So is Phindile.

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