The Lion King Is a Spectacular Spectacle
The Lion King opened on Broadway 20 years ago, and I have spent the last two decades rolling my eyes at the thought and never felt the need to buy tickets. As a huge Disney fan, I have to admit that The Lion King has never been a favorite of mine. Sure I loved the music (I went through a pretty big Elton John obsession in high school) but watching a movie of talking animals never really spoke to me. I saw the movie when it came out, and then maybe one other time on a road trip, and that’s been it. Give me Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, and now of course Frozen, and I can recite the lines!
There was really nothing pushing me to see this. So saying that I walked into the Providence Performing Arts Center as a skeptic would be accurate. I was, of course, excited that I had my dashing 8-year-old son with me, he makes any venture fun. I thought it would be a play that I would not be too impressed with, but at least my son would enjoy it. Let me tell you, I left PPAC with a true understanding of what the well-deserved hype was. What a show! I was hooked from beginning to end!
Yes, Julie Taymor’s costumes are a spectacle, but Donald Holder’s light design is every bit as beautiful, as well as the textures within Richard Hudson’s set. It was visually stunning.
The performances on this tour are incredible. So many people work to bring this story to life each night — the talent and hard work is obvious. Quite frankly, if this ensemble can do this eight times a week, I no longer wish to hear about “pop stars” who need to lip sync to make it through one song!
Often we skip over children in a show because let’s face it, it takes a lot of courage to go out there at such a young age, and sometimes the mere fact that they’re performing is adorable enough. That’s not the case here; these two kids are destined to go somewhere! Young Nala was played by Melani Cisneros, and it’s a name you’ll be seeing more often because I honestly don’t understand how this child hasn’t been given a sitcom on The Disney Channel yet. She was absolutely fantastic, sassy and can she sing! Jordan Williams played young Simba, and this mini pro tugged at my heartstrings while performing some pretty physical theater. Bravo to both young actors for their splendid job.
There are many reasons to see this tour, and Nia Holloway’s voice is certainly high on the list. The price of admission is worth it to hear her sing “Shadowland” in Act 2. She is paired with Dashaun Young as Simba who puts on a stellar performance.
You don’t have to have kids to enjoy this performance. Of course, bringing my son brought that extra added enjoyment as I watched his face light up during the opening number, but I’m sure if I had looked in a mirror, my face would have matched his.
The Lion King runs through March 19 at the Providence Performing Arts Center. For tickets, or to inquire about rush seats, call 401-421-2787. Tickets can also be purchased online at ppacri.org.