BWW Reviews: THE LION KING is Wholesome Family Entertainment
3.5 out of 5 starsIf you get concerned taking your children to the theatre because of all the recent productions featuring violence, swearing, and sexed-up drag queens - you should know The Lion King is fantastic, wholesome family entertainment with none of those (okay, there is one moment in drag, but I promise it's harmless!)
The Lion King opened last night to great fanfare at The Princess of Wales theatre, and was given a standing ovation by patrons young and old. This touring production of the highest-grossing musical of all time is a suitable presentation of the material, but it doesn't feel as grand or magical as the production which played the same theatre from 2000-2004.
The story is one we all know from the movie, a young cub - Simba who thinks he killed his father, runs away from home to have his evil Uncle Scar take over the kingdom. He returns home to save the kingdom after being convinced by his bride-to-be Nala and guide Raffiki.
The cast is well-suited to the production, with the standout being Patrick R. Brown as Scar, who reprises this role after having played it on Broadway. The only weak performance I found was that of Nia Holloway (Nala) whose singing and acting were both lacking. Jelani Remy plays Simba, reprising his role from the Las Vegas production.
While not as grand as the original, this touring production is visually stunning - and the movements and masks used under the direction of Julie Taymor (the first female to win a Tony Award for direction) invoke the feeling of seeing animals in the wild. Overall, unless you are a "Lion King purist," you won't even notice the slightly smaller production values.
There were moments throughout the evening when I was having trouble hearing the performers, and at times dialogue during busy scenes was muffled. The orchestra also sounded a little thin at times, but audience members are given a rare treat as you can see two musicians playing a wide assortment of African drums on the side boxes of the theatre.
This production of The Lion King is perfect for families, kids, and those who are kids at heart. So, if you're looking for a good time - head down to The Princess of Wales Theatre, and I promise you'll leave singing Hakuna Matata.
Photo: Jelani Remy as Simba in The Lion King Tour