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‘The Lion King’ at the Academy of Music is a roaring good show

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STORY WRITTEN BY ANNE NEBORAK 
aneborak@delconewsnetwork.com
@AnnieNeborak on Twitter

If you see one show this season, make it Disney’s “The Lion King.” This Broadway musical is an amazing production.  It is a feast for the eyes and ears. The opening is so phenomenal that you sit and wonder how it can be topped.
The feel of the jungle is captured through music and the movement of the dancers. The performers highlight the beauty of traditional African dance and music. The subtle oranges and yellows lit to create the shadows of Mufasa and Simba are amazing, and as you follow the journey of young Simba, you will become King of the Jungle. This is a beautiful tale of a father and son, and the journey his son must take alone to become a man.
The costume design is fantastic. The giraffes are truly giraffes. The hyenas become real and at one scene Simba played by Jelani Remy is a lion. It is a lion you see before you and not a man. It is wondrous how you see the actors become animals.
The music from “The Lion King” has the sounds and rhythms of Africa and the popular tunes Can You Feel the Love Tonight, and The Circle of Life. The percussion sounds of the bongos added to the feel of Africa.
Zazu, a bird, played by Drew Hirshfield brings humor to the play as did Pumbaa, a warthog played by Ben Lipitz and Nick Cordileone as Timon, a meerkat.
Patrick R. Brown as Scar, the antagonist lion who kills Mufasa is a humorous villain but we are still glad to see him die.
Steven Taylor gives a strong performance as Mufasa, the wise father. Tshidi Manye as Rafiki has amazing vocal range.
Nia Holloway is Nala, Simba’s friend and love interest. Holloway and Remy are electric in their performance together.
If there is only one criticism, I feel the music over shadowed the vocals occasionally. But that is fixable and being that this was the Philadelphia opening night, I am sure it won’t be a problem.
The truth of the matter is this performance of “The Lion King” was stunning bringing the audience up to their feet for a standing ovation that brought the curtain up twice. Make see this show this part of your circle of life!
IF YOU GO: “The Lion King” runs through June 11. Tickets are available at the Kimmel Center Box Office or the Academy Music box office or by going online at www.kimmelcenter.org or by calling 215-731-3333.

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