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AWE INSPIRING! A gorgeous, gasp-inducing spectacle.

New York Times

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BWW Reviews: Blissful Beauty in THE LION KING

Poetry. A show that inspires beyond one's capabilities of speech is described as poetic genius. In that case, Disney's Broadway hit musical The Lion King is nothing short of pure poetry.

Frankly a loss for words is what this critic is suffering from.

Julie Taymor's most renowned claim to fame is a show that has, just recently, become the highest grossing Broadway production of all time - and for good reason.

Tshidi Manye as "Rafiki" in the opening number "The Circle of Life" from The Lion King National Tour. ©Disney. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus.

There is no doubt that a journalist as young as this particular one is biased from being raised on the delight of the 1994 animated motion picture from which the show is derived. That does not, however, change the immensity of this production. It can be witnessed countless times and still deliver a magnetism that its audiences may not conceive.

The tale is simple, based loosely upon Shakespeare's own Hamlet. Mufasa is the ruler of the Pride Lands. His son Simba is born and takes the place of his uncle Scar in the line for the throne. Scar is jealous of his brother and Simba and attempts to kill them both. Mufasa dies. His son is left with the burden of believing that he is responsible for his father's death. Simba runs away, grows up, and learns to move forward with his life.

A plot summary like the one above cannot possibly do justice to what took place at the opening production at The Milwaukee Theatre last night. This performance moves beyond what audiences expect - a cookie cutter live action version of the film - and plants them back into an age when child-like wonderment still lives.

Patrick R. Brown, for instance, strolled the stage as a devious Scar. His slight mannerisms, particularly during "Be Prepared" spoke to his intrinsic narcissism. Planted atop his own Pride Rock, albeit one constructed of elephant bones, he swayed as if conducting an orchestra. Or his moments of political power wherein he did not require his cane for transport because he clearly gained strength from his egotism. Brown's masterful undertaking of the role of Scar gives the character every ounce of dignity he needs to utterly captivate the audience.

By the same token, Jordan A. Hall and Nya Cymone Carter were a pure delight. Young actors provide audiences an innocence that no one but a child could present. Hall and Carter are an immensely talented pair. Being able to keep up with the ensemble of dancers and seasoned actors, gives these two an edge that so few child actors are able to have. And their recreation of the iconic lions was so on point that not even Jonathan Taylor Thomas could naysay. Simply put, they are a joy to behold.

When the two youngsters grow up, one can only hope that they muster the raw talent of Jelani Remy as Simba. Remy's innate ability to induce tears and laughter in the same breath is exquisite. Having had the privilege to see the show two times previously, this critic can honestly say that Remy's portrayal was the purest anyone could hope for. When an actor can pull so many true emotions from his audience, he is a remarkable talent.

Jelani Remy as "Simba" and Nia Holloway as "Nala" in The Lion King National
Tour. ©Disney. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus.

Though Remy's Simba was a sight to behold, a hero is nothing without his sidekicks. A wise cracking Nick Cordileone as Timon and Ben Lipitz by his side as Pumbaa lighten the dark themes of the show. The Lion King may be considered to be a family affair, but its less than chipper undertones can leave audiences a bit heavy. Lipitz and Cordileone get to take those opportunities to drop their well known one liners. Even if viewers are familiar with the shtick, it still gets them every time. This duo has an on stage chemistry that directors dream of, but so few achieve.

The Lion King Broadway musical means reliving a childhood memory, remembering a loved one that has passed on, learning the identity of a prodigal prince, and always keeping the "hakuna matata" alive. There is so much to this show that audiences often do not see, but it all depends on the state of one's life. Much like a poem, The Lion King is able to be re-examined innumerous times and its moments still hit home.

As long as one remembers that the child inside "lives in you" then this show will continue to inspire for ages to come.

Article reprinted with permission from

What You Say

68 reviews, average rating: (4.8 Stars)

Ash: “Beautiful!”

Lion King is my favorite Disney movie, and I didn't think it could get any ... more

Alex Karpinski: “The King Is A Lion”

The Lion King, How should I put this? It's more, understandable than the mo... more

Bradley And Mom: “This Is The Best Show That I Have Ever Seen!”

We love this show!it rocks better than the one at Walt Disney World.this ... more

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