Two paws up for ‘The Lion King’

By Monica Hill, staff writer

Halfway through its month-long stay in Wichita, “The Lion King” is still able to draw a full house to Century II Concert Hall.

For nearly three hours, the musical transformed the stage into an African landscape with swooping birds, prowling
cheetahs and parading giraffes.

Sitting in the third row of the balcony gave me a fantastic view of the whole stage and small side stages.

During the play, I found myself watching the lions’ head pieces and other animal puppets more than the actors’ faces.

The actors do a fantastic job of drawing the audience into the animal they are portraying rather than the person underneath the head piece or costume.

The musical follows the Disney movie almost perfectly. The play added a few extra jokes and several musical numbers.

The opening scene is by far the most impressive and powerful part of the whole show. The musical opened with
the iconic African chant, the rising of the sun, and a parade of animals all headed toward Pride Rock to pay homage to the young Simba. When the lights blacked
out at the end of the scene, the audience erupted into applause, cheers and whistling.

The only other part of the play that could rival the opening is the stampede scene where Simba’s father dies. The musical’s rendition uses dark lighting, huge wildebeest masks and eerie music to capture Scar’s evil motives. Before the scene was over, I could see that several people around me had been moved
to tears.

What was one of the most memorable parts of the movie “The Lion King” came up short in the musical. In the movie, when Simba and Nala are in the jungle they share a romantic moment.

The theme song to this scene is “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” by Elton John. This is arguably the most popular song from the movie. In the play, however, the scene was not nearly as powerful in my opinion. The rendition of the song was vocally weak and the scene never wowed the audience with a climaxing moment.

Despite the one disappointing scene, I would pay to go see “The Lion King” again. It has definitely earned a spot in
my top five favorite musicals.

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