Going to a Broadway show can be intimidating for those not familiar with the world of theater. As someone who is not a fan of musicals either, I was a little hesitant going to see The Lion King on Broadway, but ended up thoroughly enjoying my first experience.
The play, based on the Disney animated film, debuted in 1997 in Minneapolis before it moved to New York City at the Minskoff Theatre where it has had more than 6,700 performances, making it the fourth longest-running show on Broadway as well as the top-earning title since surpassing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera just last September.
Director Julie Taymor’s production is a mesmerizing swirl of puppetry, design and sound. I was initially skeptical of watching a play that relied so heavily on props and costumes, but the opening act puts any doubts to rest. The animals are portrayed by incredible puppets, utilizing costumes and innovative choreography to recreate African wildlife on the stage in life size. While you can plainly see the performers operating the puppets, the magic of the production is its ability to pull the audience into the drama. The experience is much more immersive than any 3D movie.
Looking around the audience I found kids and adults alike mesmerized by the show. I was a big fan of the original Disney film, but found the Broadway version elevates the story to new heights, especially the ensemble performances of Elton John and Tim Rice’s classic songs. While hardened theater veterans might eschew this Broadway offering for a more challenging production, The Lion King is a delight as a visual and musical spectacle.
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