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Archive for February 10th, 2011

PostHeaderIcon Lion King Providence Another Review – Lion King at its Best when it Roars to Life

The Lion King is currently touring in Providence, RI and performing at the Providence Performing Arts Center, where the show is scheduled to run through through Feb. 20.

Lion King reviewed by Herald News Staff Reporter and published in

Probably the most important thing this writer can say about Disney’s stage production of “The Lion King” is that my daughter Kathryn, 10, said she “really liked it.” This comes from a young lady who was never a big fan of the original, cartoon version. Kathyn accompanied me to “The Lion King” last week at the Providence Performing Arts Center, where the show is scheduled to run through through Feb. 20.

“The Lion King” is the second Disney stage production to be subjected to this reviewer’s evaluation, approximately one year after “Beauty and the Beast” graced PPAC. I had loved the cartoon movie version of “Beauty and the Beast” and never expected the stage production to match it. But it did, perhaps even suprpassing it.

I came at “The Lion King” from a very different perspective, having never really liked the animated version. It just seemed like a too-long remake of the late 1960s cartoon “Kimba the White Lion.”
But judging by the big crowd at PPAC that night, my view is in the vast minority.

The show features grand entrances — one that will have you trapped in the lobby for for 10 minutes or so if you’re late — at the start of the show and when the show resumes after intermission. The best costume is the giraffe, requiring an actor to operate four stilts while donning a huge giraffe neck and head.

The show keeps a decent pace pre-intermission, but after the break comes the trouble. From the start of Part II until the Simba returns/fight-scene at the end, “The Lion King” behaves like my Camry’s cruise control: very slow to kick into high gear.

While Simba’s guilt trip over the death of his father is important, too much time is devoted to his in-skull struggle and it throws the production into slow-mo. Kathryn’s head settled on my shoulder a couple of times during Simba’s king/Hakuna Matata identity crisis.

On the positive side, the show does stage a rousing conclusion. And several of the main characters turn in excellent performances — among them Scar (Anthony Crane), Pumbaa the warthog (Ben Lipitz) and Timon the meerkat (Nick Cordileone) See if you notice the similarity to a Power Rangers’ pose when the young lions strike their ready-to-fight pose. The cute kid lions are portrayed alternately by Dusan Brown and Jerome Stephens Jr. (Simba) and Monique Lee and Madai Monica Williams (Nala).

The stage production has wisely decided to take the Pumbaa flatulation angle and run with it. The warthog lets fly with gas repeatedly and the crowd eats it up — figuratively, of course. The conspicuous expulsions never failed to get big laughs.

The choreography has received much attention and praise in the national press, so those who appreciate cool dancing numbers should enjoy this.


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