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PostHeaderIcon Long-Running Show The Lion King Retains Freshness

The Lion King is currently performing on tour in Ottawa, ON Canada. At National Arts Centre Southam Hall from Sunday, July 14 to Sunday, August 7, 2011.

When Julie Taymor’s musical production of Disney’s The Lion King opened in 1997, it was immediately hailed as a theatrical game-changer. Taymor’s adaptation of the popular animated film used animal puppets, exquisite masks, African-inspired costumes and traditional South African choral music, creating a visually astonishing, emotionally stirring spectacle that, nearly 15 years later, has lost none of its freshness or power.

The show’s lifeblood is its music. There are all the well-known hit tunes from the film, of course—Circle of Life, Can you Feel the Love Tonight, Hakuna Matata. But if you’re not a fan of Disney pop (guilty as charged), you can console yourself with the marvelous supplemental music by South African composer Lebo M. At the risk of offending countless Elton fans, the show would have been even better if it had been scored entirely with Lebo’s rich vocal harmonies and uplifting rhythms.

As young Simba and Nala, Niles Fitch and Kailah McFadden held their own with plenty of charm and charisma (along with out-wrestling her pal, McFadden is the better singer of the two). Nick Cordileone and Ben Lipitz, playing comic-relief duo Timon and Pumbaa, were the most similar to their cartoon counterparts.

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PostHeaderIcon Lion King Roars into Ottawa town with magical

A magical, sensory onslaught is in store for audiences when the Lion King opens in Ottawa tonight, says one of the show’s key actors.

“I’m so excited for Ottawa to see it,” said Mark David Kaplan, who plays Zazu the Hornbill in the award-winning stage adaptation of Disney’s classic animated feature. Zazu, an African Hornbill originally voiced in the movie by funnyman Rowan Atkinson – is majordomo to King Mufasa, ruler of the lions.

The production immerses audiences with music, masks, costumes, puppets, actors and dance, all combined at once, said Kaplan. Rather than hiding behind screens or wearing dark clothing, Kaplan and the actors and puppeteers and their facial expressions are part of the performance too. The concept is apparent from opening number, The Circle of Life as the animals of the Serengeti gather to witness the birth of the Lion King’s son Simba.

“Rafiki starts out calling out to these two antelopes and the antelopes are both calling out to her in one of the South African dialects and then she calls out to these giraffes and these two giraffes come in from stage left and it’s these two very amazing dancers on stilts – I don’t want to give too much away,” said Kaplan, his excitement apparent in his voice.

“It’s about watching all of these things at the same time. It’s not just about watching the puppeteer, or the puppet independently. You can look things independently, but neither one works independently,” he said.

While many of the “puppets” are attached to the actors as a sort of hybrid costume, Kaplan’s puppet is operated with both of his hands and has a number of small moving parts that allow for a variety of expressions. Nevertheless, he says it is the combination of those expressions as well as his own facial expressions that really bring the character to life.

At times in the show, he says he’ll work almost directly with the children in the audience, looking them in eye, but at other times the kids stop interacting with him and are interacting with the puppet. While he says the bird can’t work with out him, he says the puppet can express things physically that as a human, he can really only think.

“He’s amazing,” Kaplan says of the puppet.

Kaplan said he’s been involved in the show off and on for eight years in different roles, but in Ottawa he’ll be rejoining it to play Zazu.

“Zazu is part of the glue that makes the show work,” he said of his role. The majordomo is charged with taking care of Simba in the first act of the show. Zazu is both a guardian, and a diplomat, he is also a confidant and at the same time flies above the action, gaining insights as he soars over the Serengeti.

The show runs until Aug. 7 at the National Arts Centre.

“You start with a great story like this that everybody knows, it’s a great introduction to live theatre,” he said. “The immediacy of live theatre is what makes the show work.”


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PostHeaderIcon The Lion King Visiting Ottawa’s National Arts Centre July 14 to August 7

The Lion King Musical will make a stop at Ottawa ON Canada for the performances at National Arts Centre from Thursday, July 14 to Sunday, August 7.

Broadway’s award-winning musical The Lion King National Arts Centre Tickets are now on sale for this inspiring musical that is fun for the whole family. Directed by Tony winner Julie Taymor, The Lion King is a spectacular theatrical adaptation of one of the most popular Disney films. The show was watched by more than 8 million people since it opened at the Lyceum Theatre in October 1999. Last year, the shows raised a record £ 32 million at the box office in London.

The smash hit has been seen by more than 55 million people in 18 different productions worldwide since its 1997 premiere. The Lion King productions have grossed more than $4.3 billion to date and have cumulatively run 83 years. Newsweek calls the Tony® Award-winning sensation “a landmark event in entertainment” and The New York Times says, “You will gasp again and again at the visual majesty of the show…There is simply nothing else like it.”

As the Lion King will be performing only for 25 Days, Do not miss to watch this Family entertainer. Buy Lion King National Arts Centre Tickets Online. Use Code AFF$10 to Get $10 OFF on Lion King Ottawa ON Canada Ticket Orders over $350!