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The Lion King at the Pantages in Hollywood

by Noa (writer), Venice, Los Angeles, December 06, 2006

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Last night I went to see Broadway's award-winning best musical The Lion King, which is playing at the Pantages Theater on Hollywood and Vine until January 7th. This is the fourth musical I have been to but I must say it is by far the best. The most impressive things about it are the costumes and props. The creativity involved in making the animals come alive on stage was unbelievable! Far from the classic personification of animals in Cats, where actors simply wear little ears and makeup, the Lion King has revolutionized the creation of animal characters. The production uses many different techniques including puppets, costumes, puppet-costume hybrids, masks, projection, and even bicycles (which serve to create the illusion of antelopes galloping across the stage)! My favorite scene was the stampede where the show used a combination of projections on the wall with a 4-layer stage using different size masks and animal puppets, which really made it look like the animals were getting closer.

The choreography was also absolutely amazing. Disney hired Jamaican-born modern dance choreographer Garth Fagan who had never done such a high-profile number before. The dance moves which range from western ballet to African dance and which combine human and animal grace and strength were simply astonishing. The agility and flexibility of the dancers themselves was mind-blowing as well.

Finally, one has to comment on the music! The western songs from the original movie were written by Elton John and Tim Rice but for the African beats Disney hired South African native Lebo M. to create an authentic and breath-taking sound that would do justice to Africa's rich savanna. Lebo's inspiration for the film's music is Nelson Mandela's 27 year prison sentence which he endured before rising to rule his nation after a series of oppressive white regimes, which he sees Simba's story as a folk-narrative of. To me the most spectacular voices in the cast were those of Rafiki, played by Gugwana Dlamini (a woman, in contrast with the film!) and young Simba, Jordan Bratton. Gugwana's voice is simply piercing and her ability to get into character as a monkey was incredible; she was truly the star of the performance. Little Jordan was the cutest little Simba imaginable with a crystal-clear voice that rang of young promise; I'm sure he will go far.

I would recommend running to see this amazing performance before it leaves L.A. on January 7th! Tickets are available online at ticketmaster.com. They can be quite expensive, depending on the seats and the nights. I went on a Tuesday and would recommend going on a weeknight because Hollywood Boulevard will be less chaotic and tickets are cheaper. Enjoy the show!



About the Writer

Noa is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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3 comments on The Lion King at the Pantages in Hollywood

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By V on December 06, 2006 at 08:50 pm
I had been hesitant to succumb to the hype of the Lion King but was lucky enough to have to go as part of my job, back in Sydney, Australia, I think nearly two years ago. I am so happy that it turned out that way or I would never have gone and it was quite simply incredible! I was on the edge of my seat, clapping like a four year old and even going so far as to shed a tear, utterly absorbed in the magic. I so didn't want it to end. If the show is consistent globally, then a good tip for all attending is to sit on an isle seat on the ground floor (I don't know what the theatre here is like for levels). Groups of performers entered at times from the back of the theatre, working themselves and their puppets toward the stage, down the isles, through the crowd. It was brilliant to feel like part of the fanfare and to get a close range look at the incredible works of art that are the costumes and puppets.
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By Steven Lane on December 07, 2006 at 01:33 am
Really well written review. The Lion King wouldn't normally interest me, but you sold me.
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By nanouch on December 07, 2006 at 11:24 am
je n'ai pas compris grand chose, mais j'aurais bien voulu voir ce spectacle , j'espere que tu vas bien . Bisous de Paris
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