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PostHeaderIcon Lion King Denver CO Review

Lion King Musical is currently showing at The Buell Theatre and running through December 04, 2011.

Disney’s “The Lion King” creates many expectations – and the national touring production, now showing at Denver’s Temple Buell Theatre, meets all of them.

From the moment the curtain and a dazzling sun rises to a parade of exotic African animals, you realize these characters are tactile, dissectible and very real. Each of the 25 different types of mammals, birds, fish and insects portrayed in the show reveal their human actors, breathing life and realism into every movement. Down the aisles life-sized elephants, stilted giraffes, cheetahs, jumping antelope propelled on wheels, women covered in flocks of beautiful white birds and men waving overhead high-flying winged fowls envelope the audience. Its effect: instant awe and a smile that is hard to wipe from your face for the remainder of the show.

Being able to see inside the animals, with a look at the actor’s faces and movements, pays homage to worldwide art forms of African mask rituals (where wearers’ faces are meant to be seen) and Japanese Bunkaru puppetry. “The Lion King” also delves into shadow puppetry, with its origins in Ancient Greece, China and Indonesia celebrating a blend of cultures and compelling storytelling.

Lion King Buell Theatre Performances Schedule:
Tuesdays through Saturdays – 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays – 2 p.m.
Sundays – 1 and 6:30 p.m.

The obvious stars are the costumes, which still feel innovative and cutting edge despite the stage show’s own 14-year “circle of life” on stages worldwide.

The story is all about Simba, and his coming-of-age tale amid tragedy and self-discovery, at times so accurately mimics its animated inspiration that the script, actors’ voices and even set designs take audiences back to a nostalgic place of watching the animated film for the first time.

The cast masterfully brings to life the costumes, sets and effects; their characters are just as, if not more, charming than the animated originals. This is attributed to the creative call by director Julie Taymor in costuming the characters as human and animal. This further creates a sense of identification with the story.

Actor J. Anthony Crane’s character Zazu, the hornbill bird, is a standout with perfect comedic relief that isn’t quite delivered from classic favorites Pumba and Timon.

Perhaps their scenes are the only distraction, where Timon’s puppeteer and actor Nick Cordileone is dressed and painted all in green and maneuvering a more than 4-foot-tall fabric Timon puppet. Amid the organic and abstract animals, Timon remains stuck in cartoon form and his actor often clashes amid the browns and reds of the savannah. Cordileone’s acting is still superb, making all he can of the character, but the jaunting visual contrast of Timon and his peers detracts from his scenes and serves as a distraction.

With audiences wildly cheering on their feet at the ensemble’s first bow, they match “The Lion King’s” Broadway tour with their own triumphant roar.

Read the complete review {Via Coloradoan}

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