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

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PostHeaderIcon The Lion King Roars at Place des Arts – Still Dazzles

The Lion King has arrived in Montreal finally. Actually, it has been in preview mode since Tuesday night. But August 09, 2011 night it’s the much anticipated grand opening. Lion King at Montreal, QC Canada will play through September 04, 2011.

The Lion King Roars at Place des Arts

The Lion King Roars at Place des Arts

The arrival of The Lion King, for an unusual month-long run, may usher in a whole new era of musical theatre for the venue, recently abandoned by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. 

The Lion King is one of those rare modern musicals that include widely popular songs. The combined musical talents of Elton John, Tim Rice and Lebo M, not to mention Jay Rifkin, Hans Zimmer and Taymor (musical credits for this show are complicated) add up to thrilling and memorable numbers (Hakuna Matata, Circle of Life). 

Also, this is one of the greatest puppet shows of all time, utilizing various styles and sizes, all in the service of a heartwarming story about a young lion cub named Simba. 

With this new availability, award-winning hits like The Lion King, directed by Julie Taymor, could arrive in Montreal less than a decade after their Broadway triumphs (The Lion King premiered on Broadway in 1997.) And perhaps they will get in the habit of staying longer than the standard six days. 

Compared to the Canadian production, which played the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto in 2000, the North American tour of The Lion King that opened Thursday night at Place des Arts is scaled-down to travel and cramped to fit a slightly narrowed stage. This hampers some of the dance numbers, particularly those involving tent-like costumes. 

Otherwise, the spectacle remains dazzling. The voices of the ensemble, as well as those of principal performers like Buyi Zama as the priestess Rafiki, send shivers down your spine. 

The Lion King means experiencing admiration for the genius of director Taymor, who has since had a rocky ride with Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. (It’s so much better to have Disney behind you than Bono.) Her ingenious segues make for a cinematically smooth, delicately balanced show that ravishes the eye with colourful costumes while it beguiles the ear. Richard Hudson’s set design plays with perspective, trusting the sky as backdrop. The greatest novelties, of course, are the more than 200 animal puppets (heckling hyenas, a slinking cheetah, leaping gazelles) with their complicated mechanisms, which require highly skilled manipulation. 

The child performers playing Young Simba and Young Nala are another wonder. These are not walk-on roles. 

Comic-relief characters like the yappy bird Zazu (Mark David Kaplan), and the sidekick duo of the smart-ass meerkat, Timon (played by Nick Cordileone) and Pumbaa (a flippant warthog, played by Ben Lipitz) offer a dash of vaudeville to this Hamlet-like tale of a princely young lion determined to avenge the death of his father (Dionne Randolph, as Mufasa). 

Jelani Remy is a magnificent adult Simba who pairs beautifully with Syndee Winters, as Nala, for Can You Feel the Love Tonight. 

The necessary element of absolute villainy is provided by J. Anthony Crane as wicked uncle Scar, who actually uses the phrase “Aye, there’s the rub,” underlining the Shakespearean influence. 

French surtitles mounted on either side of the stage appear sporadically, at odd moments. There’s a sly reference to the song Alouette, which works, and a switch to French for The Circle of Life reprise, which doesn’t. 

The fact that The Lion King adds an element of African ancestor worship to (rather British) principles of monarchy and male progenitor dominance within a cartoon-spawned American classic can easily be ignored, or discussed by adults after the show. Children of all ages and both genders will simply enjoy this coming-of-age story for what it is – if you don’t keep them up too long after their normal bedtime. 

Read the complete review {Via MontrealGazette.com

Show Time:
With intermission, the show lasts two and a half hours, so parents of small children should opt for matinees. 

The Lion King continues performances at Place des Arts until September 4. Hurry up to book the best Lion King Montreal Quebec Canada Tickets. Save $10 off on purchase of Lion King Place Des Arts Tickets for $350 or more by using the promo code AFF$10.

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