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Author Topic:   The Lion King
cstengel
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posted December 23, 2000 01:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cstengel   Click Here to Email cstengel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Okay, I know there'll probably be some criticism of this show, but I just found out we got tickets as a gift for Christmas (pretty good 4th or 5th row seats at that) and I'm excited about seeing it. Anybody here seen this yet?

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RobinRafe
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posted December 23, 2000 11:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for RobinRafe   Click Here to Email RobinRafe     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oh, yes, you will love it. The style the staging, it's fabulous. Cynics stay home. Just enjoy it for what it is.

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jpgordo
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posted December 24, 2000 11:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jpgordo   Click Here to Email jpgordo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The opening number brings the house down every night.

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PeopleHater
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posted December 27, 2000 02:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for PeopleHater     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Seems way too similar to that animals in the zoo on roller skates musical that was on Get a Life for my tastes. I want to know what this stage version does that separates it from the crappy stage versions of shows they do at the various Disney parks.

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fred
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posted December 27, 2000 08:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There's nothing crappy about Disneyland!

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fred
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posted December 31, 2000 03:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And singing Lions is the craziest thing I've ever heard!

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cstengel
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posted January 07, 2001 03:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cstengel   Click Here to Email cstengel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Today's the big day! (Or rather, this evening is the big this evening!) Will let you know how it went later.

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jpgordo
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posted January 07, 2001 10:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jpgordo   Click Here to Email jpgordo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I heard that in tonight's show the role of baby Simba will be played by the baby Simba understudy.

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Kiev
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posted January 08, 2001 04:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kiev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Saw "The Lion King" - really liked the first half, got very bored in the second half. Weird.

The opening number is just cool - no two ways about it. I went to this show expecting more of a dance performance with cool African rhythms, and at least got the dance part. It was more of a moving canvas than a story driven play, but that was just fine with me. Kept watching the "actors" and how they worked the costumes - found that fascinating. And quite impressed that they could find people who could act, move, sing, and puppeteer all at the same time. I also thought the voices were very good matches for the characters.

I think the second half bored me because I'd already seen all the puppets at that point, and the story slowed (and it's only a Disney story, after all), and they allowed more solos (they just went on, and on, and on...).

Only real criticism overall was that I hated Rafiki (the monkey w/the painted face). Not only was her (changed from the film) voice REALLY high pitched and annoying (she squeals through the performances), but it's one thing to have an animated character speaking gibberish - another all together when it's a human right in front of you. Was like watching a 10 year old boy make up words he thinks are funny.

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jpgordo
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posted January 08, 2001 10:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jpgordo   Click Here to Email jpgordo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's tough when you open with the best number in the show. It's supposed to work out that you open big but you have something bigger and more impressive later.

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cstengel
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posted January 09, 2001 02:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cstengel   Click Here to Email cstengel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
(Meant to post earlier but the computer has been down all day.)

I was actually very torn on The Lion King. Had great seats (5th row center), the Pantages is really a beautiful theater, and it was great to see all those kids in the audience being exposed to theater and having a good time. (I've never seen so many booster seats in a theater.) And before I say even the slightest negative thing, I want to note that I had been looking forward to seeing the show, am not simply out to bash Disney, etc.

The original draw of the show for me was always the short clips or photos of the really ingenious costume and stage design and that DID live up to my expectations (at times - like the stampede - even exceeded them). But when all was said and done I don't know if that was enough for me. I don't regret going, but am not sure in hindsight what I would have been willing to pay for the tickets had they not been a gift.

While the stage design and the costumes WERE ingenious, breathtaking, and the thing I'll remember most about the show, there were many times I found them a hindrance once I stopped focusing on the show as "spectacle" and turned my attention to "story". At that point you're sort of left not knowing whether to focus on the visible face of the actor or the "puppet" face. For some of the characters this wasn't an issue. Scar's and Mufasa's costumes were simple yet extremely effectual. Their masks primarily were lion head hats. But when they knelt forward in agression, for example, the masks would automatically descend and you could really see a lion there. The child versions of Simba and Nala wore no masks which was a good choice. But for characters like Zazu the bird or Timon or Pumbaa it became more of an issue for me. All those actors did incredible things with their puppets/costumes, but there were many times I found it more distracting to not know which of their heads to focus on (and the production didn't help by often referring to the puppet master of Zazu, for example, as a separate character looking for his bird, etc).

I did like the movie of The Lion King, but must admit that I would probably rank it at best 4th or 5th in the newer wave of Disney films with things like Beauty and the Beast or The Little Mermaid far above it. I think that the music on the whole in the original other than Circle of Life and Hakuna Matada just didn't stick with me. I felt even moreso with the stage version. As mentioned before, I thought the spectacle stole from Circle of Life, theme as well as song (vs. the film which, in my mind, did a better job of reinforcing the words and ideas). Hakuna Matada, which should have been the one number that got the crowd going (the obligatory comic relief number), just never quite got there (despite Timon and Pumba really being cast well and doing a great job). Don't know who's to blame for that one. Could just be that the song was overplayed so much already you couldn't expect much. I also don't know that the new numbers added for the stage version did much more than extend the length of the show. One day later, and I'm not humming any of them nor do I remember any lyrics, etc.

I don't want to pick on kids, but one of the larger disappointments was that the child Simba I saw was kind of weak in acting, singing, and dancing. The young Nala, on the other hand, had a GREAT voice. Of course the bulk of the first half is about young Simba so it meant the bulk of the first half I was a little unsatisfied. The older Simba and Nala were both great as were Timon, Pumba and Scar. Scar was really the standout of the show for me (although his speaking voice was superior to his singing voice - he sang well but at certain registers was overpowered by the music). He was this great combination of the character created in the film, the things that the new costuming brought to the role, and in many senses almost a kabuki type character.

Before I shift away from voices, do ANY stage productions shy away from miking their actors anymore? I suppose we should blame rent. Actually, there might have been some necessity for it because of the costumes. But I can't say I enjoyed that. 5 rows back from the stage and I'm hearing everything coming from speakers to my right and left instead of in front of me.

While the chorus did MAGNIFICENT things with the animal and plant costumes they were given, when it came to more traditional non- (or lesser-) costumed choreographed dance numbers I found them a little sloppy. Maybe it was just the night we were there. I also didn't enjoy the odd (sexual?) ballet on wires "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" sequence. (Why do all these shows feel obligated to make one slow number in a show a ballet.) One day somebody will have to explain what those costumes were supposed to be to me.

My major criticism of the show, however, is that the main point of the story (the recognition and explanation of the "circle of life") seems to really get lost in this spectacle despite the song sort of bookending the show. For whatever reason, be it preoccupation with style, etc., I felt when all was said and done there wasn't really any theme to this show that came across other than the one your remember from the movie. Actually, I suppose it's a moot point as most of the planet HAS seen the movie, but without its existence I wonder how clear or enjoyable this would have been. I found myself frequently filling in gaps or shortcomings of the stage version with the animated version.

Anyway, I don't want to rant because I can't say I didn't enjoy myself enough. There were moments when your jaw dropped in awe. Those were just offset by a general feeling, when all was said and done for me, of emptiness and indifference. I suppose if anyone here was already contemplating seeing the show based upon clips they'd been intrigued by or if they had kids they wanted to introduce to the theater, I'd definitely encourage them. But if it was simply a case of them asking me to recommend a show out of everything that might be playing in town, this probably wouldn't be at the top of my list.

In short, definitely theatre as spectacle - but very well done spectacle. In the end, if looking for a show with that kind of spectacle I'd prefer things like the opera scene in Phantom, barricades in Les Miserables, pirate ship in Cats to this show because there offset with stronger music and slightly stronger stories. (Note - I think the film of the Lion King did a good job of getting that story across. It's just lost in the stage version.) Again, if you're interested in seeing it for any of the above reasons, I'd encourage you. God knows if we don't see SOMETHING, pretty soon there won't be any live theater left.

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MichaelMon
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posted January 09, 2001 08:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MichaelMon   Click Here to Email MichaelMon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yeah, well... what do you want from singing animals. Has there ever been a singing animal musical that has made sense? Animals think differently than us story-wise. Maybe the animals understand and like it more than humans.

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PeopleHater
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posted January 10, 2001 02:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for PeopleHater     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Damn, I think the libretto was probably shorter than that post.

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RayFoster
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posted January 18, 2001 11:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for RayFoster   Click Here to Email RayFoster     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'll keep mine short. I enjoyed it.

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cstengel
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posted January 20, 2001 01:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cstengel   Click Here to Email cstengel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When did the world get so preoccupied with sound bytes? Does it really serve any purpose to the rest of you to simply hear somebody say they "loved it"? (No offense to Ray.) It's one thing if you know a person and they say something like they "loved it". Then you can judge that against their past suggestions and the current opinion might have some value. But crap, everywhere you go people want a freakin' shorthand. You know, if something is too long like a message post SKIP IT.

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