BWW Review: Still Wild About DISNEY'S THE LION KING at The Adrienne Arsht Center
Disney's The Lion King at the Adrienne Arsht Center was packed with excitement even before the first song was sung. People flocked to the Arsht Center because of what a Disney musical promises: larger than life characters, lavish costumes, out of this world set design and stories we adore. The Lion King delivers in every aspect. Honestly, what is there not to love? It is still my favorite of all Disney musicals closely tied with Beauty and the Beast because of its ionic status.
Lions, Tigers and... Elephants. The opening number, 'Circle of Life', has all the WOW factor I remember when I first watched it years ago. Watching beautifully elaborate costumes, puppetry, makeup and all the spectacle is what you come to expect from Disney's The Lion King. Once the huge elephant was making its way from the house to the stage you can hear audible gasps from the audience from adults and children alike. The Serengeti came alive all around us.
The actor that held my attention was Gerald Ramsey as Mufasa. He commanded the stage with such grace and strength it was everything you expect from the King. The warmth of the love for his son and his majesty were on full display in every gesture and physical choice he made. Gerald's rendition of 'They Live in You' was heartfelt and beautifully sung. Although, I knew his time on stage would be short-lived I wished for just one more song. Mukelisiwe Goba as Rafiki was endearing from the beginning. She was so much fun to watch. She brought something special to the character and brought a smile to my face every time she entered the stage. I would be remiss if I did not also mention Greg Jackson as ZaZu with his quippy one liners and funny turn a phases which always landed. Although, it was Nick Cordileone as Timon who stole the show. His physical comedy and endless energy were a joy to watch.
While the show was extremely entertaining and I completely recommend it, it was not without its faults. I did not love the hyenas. Their energy seemed off since the beginning. I believe the fact that their faces were much more hidden than the other characters behind cartoon like masks had something to do with it. They were the only characters whose costume did not match the style of the rest of the cast. I also have a bone to pick with the song 'Chow Down'. The song itself feels forced and nothing in the choreography made it fun to watch. In stark contrast to most all of the other catchy songs, this one just felt unnecessary. However, my biggest qualm was with Scar. Something was missing in his performance. He was all mastermind with none of the wickedness this character demands. He was missing some of the 'bite' this character needs to be seen as a villain. I also don't think it helped that his microphone was a little off. He seemed to be lower than everyone else. Although, that would be my general note for the whole show that it seemed as if it wasn't loud enough and I felt myself straining to hear throughout.
Overall, what makes the show is the ensemble and all the beautiful elements of the African music, dance and costumes. 'One by One' is a perfect start to Act Two. That song is a precise example of how the musical is better than the beloved film. The elements that made it special where those moments of true African culture within the musical. Those special moments in the production on top of all of the iconic songs like 'Circle of Life', 'Can You Feel the Love to Night', and 'Shadowland' make this a MUST SEE musical again and again.
For all you Disney fans and children at heart, Disney's The Lion King will not disappoint. It will give you everything you come to expect from a Disney Musical and more.
*All programs, artists, ticket prices, availability, dates and times are subject to change without notice.
Visit arshtcenter.org for up-to-date information.
The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County is made possible by the public support of the Miami-Dade County Mayor and the Board of County Commissioners, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Tourist Development Council and the City of Miami Omni Community Redevelopment Agency, as well as the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture. The Adrienne Arsht Center also receives generous support from individuals, corporations and local, state and national foundations.
About the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County
Set in the heart of downtown Miami and designed by world-renowned architect Cesar Pelli, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County is one of the world's leading performing arts organizations and venues. Since opening in 2006, the Arsht Center, a 501C3 non-profit organization, has emerged as a leader in presenting innovative programming that mirrors South Florida's diversity as well as a catalyst for billions of dollars in new development in the downtown area. Spotlighting legends and serving as a launch pad for local artists to make their mark on the international stage, the Center presents nearly 400 events each year across its flexible, state-of-the-art performance spaces. The Center programs several Signature Series, including the largest jazz series in South Florida, a major annual Flamenco Festival, and a robust program of new theatrical works as well as free programming for the community and an arts education program that serves nearly 60,000 children each year. As Miami's new Town Square, the Arsht Center also houses BRAVA by Brad Kilgore, a fine dining restaurant; the Café at Books & Books in the historic Carnival Tower and a weekly Farmers Market. Visit arshtcenter.org for more information.