Lion King is currently playing on tour in Orlando, FL and moves to Birmingham, AL

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PostHeaderIcon Lion King Musical at Hippodrome Performing Arts Center – Review

The Baltimore return of Disney’s The Lion King opens Friday, December 9 at 7:30 pm at the Hippodrome Theatre for a limited engagement of five weeks through Sunday, January 8, 2012. The show’s 14-week premiere engagement in 2005 played a sold-out run and box office smash at the Hippodrome Theatre.

Judging from all of the smiling children at a recent performance, this show is a wonderful family activity for the holiday season. The kids weren’t the only ones smiling, laughing and pointing, because “The Lion King” knows how to please a crowd.

This theatrical fact is loudly announced in the opening number, “Circle of Life,” in which the performers parade down the aisles and then claim the stage as their own. You plainly see the actors supporting the schematically constructed elephants that majestically march down the aisles.

The birds flying overhead are set in motion by people holding lofty poles; indeed, when one of the birds accidentally got snagged by the overhead balcony, the guy holding that pole earned a round of applause for finding a way to free it without injury to the puppet. And there are performers on stilts that facilitate their angular, forward motion as long-limbed giraffes.

One of the most ingenious design decisions was to create animal masks that do not cover the performers’ faces, but instead hover just above their heads. This presents us with both the animals’ fixed expressions and the more mobile human faces emulating those expressions.

The distinctive look of “The Lion King” is further enhanced by Donald Holder’s lighting design, which bathes Richard Hudson’s spare scenic designs in environmentally evocative splashes of pure color. You don’t doubt that the sun is shining when yellow light suffuses everything in sight.

As for the story, adult viewers will note that it’s a thematically blunt tale about a young male lion, Simba (Niles Fitch, alternating with Zavion J. Hill), that mourns the death of his lion king father, Mufasa (Dionne Randolph), and also contends with Mufasa’s villainous brother, Scar (J. Anthony Crane). Young Simba also takes a friendly interest in a young female lion, Nala (Kailah McFadden, alternating with Sade Phillip-Demorcy).

After spending years growing up on his own, the now-adult Simba (Jelani Remy) returns home to claim his throne. This means jousting with his nasty Uncle Scar, and also taking some time out for a courtship with the now-adult Nala (Syndee Winters).

Although only J. Anthony Crane’s hilariously mean performance as Scar qualifies as a standout performance among the principal roles, this is a vocally capable cast.

Read the complete review {Via BaltimoreSun.com}

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