BWW Review: BE A LION RETURNS...BETTER THAN EVER!
BE A LION RETURNS...BETTER THAN EVER!
VICKIE L. EVANS
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to see the Broadway World awarded musical, Be A Lion, written by Rory D. Sheriff, who recently won "Best Director" at the Atlanta Black Theater Festival. I have seen this urban musical fantasy at least four times since its original run at The Blumenthal Performing Art Center's Duke Energy Theater, at Spirit Square. Each time it has been an enlightening experience.
Each cast has brought its own individualism to the stage. What I like about this current cast is there seems to be a chemistry and comradery amongst the characters that illuminates on stage. With Tim Bradley in the lead role, as "The Cowardly Lion", with his trusted sidekick, Miles, The Mouse (Danius Jones) and his love interest, LaDawn (K. Alana Jones), we journey on a colorful quest, while encountering red flying crabs, a betraying squirrel, and a dark, evil witch named Damneesha (Melody Williams) to restore the fictitious kingdom of Oz, which has been left in shambles after the departure of the fraudulent ruler, The Wizard. The Lion seeks the assistance of his friends: Dorothy (Kayla Ferguson) The Scarecrow (Jessika Johnson), and The Tin Man (Graham Williams) to help him become the next ruler and king of Oz.
If you have not guessed it by now, Be A Lion is sort of a spin-off of L. Frank Baum's classic children's book - The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz (1900), MGM's musical fantasy film - The Wizard Of Oz (1939) and the Tony-Award winning Broadway Musical, The Wiz. (1978).
There are several notable points of evolution in this current running of Be A Lion. The most significant upgrade is the technological advancement utilized as backdrops for the set. I remember the first set, which projected on what appeared to be a small 19" screen, diagonal to center stage. This current running, had full size screen projections that expanded the entire width/length of the stage. Not to mention, the high quality images that enhanced the visual imagination of the patrons and catapulted us to the Land of Oz.
The playwright also incorporated some script rewrites and additions, as well. A famous quote from The Color Purple..."The jail you plan for me is the one you will rot in! was stated by Miles to the Flying Crabs. The "moonwalk" dance performed by The Scarecrow and "The Crows" in tribute to the late Michael Jackson, who portrayed the role of the Scarecrow in the Motown produced film, The Wiz, in 1978, was a fun addictive. However, one of my favorite scenes was eliminated...the mating dance between The Lion and LaDawn...I was fond of that. Several modifications and improvements have been implemented to make the transitions on stage smoother and easier to follow. The only suggestion I would make is to find a smoother transition to transport Dorothy back to Oz.
Be A Lion seems to have become an annual family favorite for young and old. Debutantes, sorority sisters (AKAS), and a senior citizen group attended the Saturday matinee. Just like the success of its aforementioned predecessors, Be A Lion is well on its way to becoming a musical phenom that will be celebrated for years to come. Keep on striving, evolving, and making audiences happy, Rory D. Sheriff. A toast to your continued success.
For more information about "Be A Lion" and upcoming BNS Productions, please visit website: http://www.brandnewsheriff.com/