Cue one of the spine-tingling-est songs of all time, add a huge stage with the coolest man-made sunrise known, and then toss in the most innovative animal costumes ever made, and you have the most captivating opening to any Broadway musical out there. From the opening note, The Lion King delivered everything that the banners, billboards, and posters hyped it up to be.
It is opening weekend of The Lion King and they will be in Tampa until May 22. Our seats were fantastic: right on the isle of the center section in the 10th row. That placed us spot-on level with the stage so that we couldn’t see the stage surface, but we weren’t missing the performers’ ankles, either.
The show brings a new appreciation for the talent that the performers have to sing, dance, and act in all of the crazy costumes they had. The ensemble had about 25 costume changes by my estimate, and some of them were quite elaborate. It was not your typical Broadway musical where the ensemble remains relatively human and does a quick change. We are talking about changing from a hyena to a lioness to a piece of savannah grassland, complete with makeup changes. Truly, though, words cannot describe the coolness of Mufasa’s and Scar’s lion faces and the way they could drop down in front of their face to create a very effective lion appearance.
If you have seen the movie as many times as most, the lines are right from the movie, with the exception of some live audience flair, such as the stage curtain looking “like a shower curtain from Target,” as Zazu so comically pointed out. As long as children can sit through the animated movie, they will have no problem being enthralled with Broadway’s interpretation, and this is an excellent opportunity to expose them to the arts in an attractive and entertaining activity. The running time is about 2 1/2 hours with a 20-minute intermission.
Don’t let this gem leave town without experiencing the Best of Broadway!