By Megan Mooney
When Mirvish produced The Lion King at the beginning of the century I never managed to see it, so I was excited to hear that the touring company of The Lion King was going to be part of this Mirvish season.
And my excitement was certainly warranted. The Lion King is an absolute feast for the eyes and a treat for the ears. The opening number was mind-blowingly beautiful, absolutely breathtaking.
The piece is filled with beautiful South African choral music composed by Lebo M, amazing puppets designed by Julie Taymor and Michael Curry, and fantastic costumes also designed by Julie Taymor. As a general statement, the design of this show was amazing.
The performances were also fantastic. One stands out as exceptional, and that’s Brenda Mhlongo in the role of Rafiki the baboon. That woman has incredible power behind her voice and was amazing to listen to.
Everything else, well, it’s what you’d expect. The story is basically the same as the movie. Not exactly, but the fundamentals are there. It’s a good story, but honestly, for me, and my show-partner Sam, this production wasn’t about the story, it was about the design.
For me it was the visuals and the music, for Sam apparently it was just the visuals. It’s not that she didn’t like the music, but she was so blown away by the design, the puppets, the dancing, the whole picture, that the music felt secondary.
One of the other things I loved about going to this production? All the kids in the audience. It’s so fantastic to see a new generation being introduced to theatre. It’s something to remember when going though, there will be kids there, and lots of them. So, enter with the mindset of being charmed by their excitement and let it be contagious. Otherwise you’ll just end up being frustrated when the kids act like, well, kids.
Speaking of kids, Sam and I were both very impressed by the plush red velvet booster seats available for children. A fantastic idea, and a great way to welcome that new generation of theatre-goers into the theatre.
By now you’ve probably guessed, I think people should check this show out. Honestly, the opening number alone is worth the price of admission. Check it out, but do it quickly, the run won’t last for long.
– The Lion King plays until June 12, 2011 at the Princess of Wales Theatre (300 King St W)
– Performances are Tues – Sat 7:30 PM; Sat 2:00 PM; Sun 1:00 & 6:30 PM (Special Weekday Matinee Wed, May 18 at 2:00 PM.)
– Ticket prices range from $25 to $120 and are available online at www.mirvish.com or by calling 416-872-1212 or 1-800-461-3333
Photo of Brenda Mhlongo by Joan Marcus