Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Lion King

You should definitely see this. It is based on a movie, but you know its transformation to the stage is magical. It isn't like anything I've ever seen before.

The key element is the imagining of the spirit of an animal. How does it look? How does it move? How does its voice sound? They never announce that the animals hovering around the lions are hyenas, but nevertheless, you know.

The only real problem with The Lion King is that it starts at the top and goes down from there. This is not the expected arc of a musical. In the beginning we experience the full array of animals crossing the stage. The grass is also a character in the drama. I mean that. There are actors playing grass. And in the opening is singing. The best number in the show is the opening song, sung by the best singer in the cast, a woman named Brown Lindiwe Mkhize from South Africa.

Elton John is channelling Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

It is the originality of vision, due primarily to the work of the designer and director, Julie Taymor, that makes this a real joy. The plot is silly.

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