Not everyone visiting Las Vegas considers a children’s production when they’re booking shows — but The Lion King is much, much more than just entertainment for the kids!
The Lion King, based on the 1994 Disney animated movie by the same name, was my first Disney production and it was easy to see why it has become the world’s number 1 musical (from the Mandalay Bay website at: http://www.mandalaybay.com/entertainment/lionking.aspx )
Julie Taymor, director and designer of the Las Vegas production, has blended reality with story, creating a production where the music and actors whisked me away to a world beyond my experience. African masks…beating drums…lions…wildebeests…from the first scene to the last, I believed in The Lion King.
Taymor worked with Michael Curry, one of the country’s leading puppet experts, to create the cast of African animals. The masks, rather than covering the faces of the actors, provided an iconic expression for the single puppeteer who’s visible — some of the larger animals required three puppeteers, with two completely covered operating the puppet’s legs and right hand.
As with all live productions, the sets and lighting also contribute to the success of the performance. While the tension mounts through the story, the behind-the-scenes action also gains in momentum. One of the most dramatic scenes was the canvas scroll and series of large rollers that made the wildebeest stampede of thousands rush right at me, appearing larger and larger until it seemed I’d surely be trampled!
While Las Vegas has many amazing shows, I have to agree with the more than 45 million people around the world who’ve named The Lion King as one of the world’s most spectacular musicals.
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