|The Lion King's Tree of Life|
(Original Broadway Cast)
So, the question is, how will Disney do in Vegas? Family values meets adult excess, can it really work?
After seeing "The Lion King" last night at Mandalay Bay, my answer is a resounding "YES."
"The Lion King" opened in Las Vegas last month to the same glowing reviews it's received since debuting on Broadway over ten years ago. A spectacle of sight and sound, it's the perfect fit for Vegas show goers accustomed to the sensory overload of Cirque du Soleil or Blue Man Group, but with a lot more emotion and heart. Judging from the enthusiastic, near-capacity crowd I was in, "The Lion King" may just have a bright and lengthy future ahead of it.
The story is familiar to even the most casual of Disney fans. Simba, a young lion, must choose between the two life paths set before him: the path of his father, Mufasa, the mighty king of the pride lands; or the path of least resistance, an escapist world in the jungle where "hakuna matata" ("no worries") is the philosophy to live by. In choosing, Simba must come to grips with his nagging sense of responsibility and ultimately confront his treacherous uncle Scar, who has plans of his own to rule the African savanna.
|Giraffes roam the savanna.|
The cast is superior, with many of the actors having previously performed in other "Lion King" productions worldwide. Tops among them is Buyi Zama as the playful but wise baboon shaman Rafiki. Her opening chants in her native Zulu dialect fill the theater with joyful noise, and as the story progresses she is the glue that holds it together, connecting the characters to one another and pointing Simba towards his destiny. Also noteworthy is Thom Sesma, one of the few newcomers to "The Lion King" cast, gleefully slimy and menacing as Scar.
|Buyi Zama (Rafiki) at the|
D23 meet and greet
"The Lion King" has on open-ended run at Mandalay Bay with plans of sticking around for a while. I see no reason why it can't. Ten-plus years in production have not reduced its lustre. It's a thrilling, engaging, fun and heart-warming experience that more than holds its own against any other entertainment offering on the Las Vegas Strip.
Who said Las Vegas and Disney couldn't mix? No worries here.
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