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Published On: Mon, Jan 25th, 2016

‘The Lion King’ Broadway play amazes and entertains

Disney’s The Lion King is a true phenomenon and the production’s return to Tampa was quickly well-received as The Circle of Life prompted a roaring applause to kick off the opening night.

Tony Award-winning director Julie Taymor brings to life the adventure with stunning visuals and backdrops as the Tony Award-winning music filled the hall. Act one is nearly a direct rendition of popular animated film with the second piece adding more original songs and creative flair.

Jelani Remy as “Simba” and the ensemble in “He Lives in You” from THE LION KING National Tour.    Photo:  Joan Marcus ©Disney. courtesy of Straz Center

Jelani Remy as “Simba” and the ensemble in “He Lives in You” from THE LION KING National Tour. Photo: Joan Marcus ©Disney. courtesy of Straz Center

The packed house at the Straz Center was full of fans young and old, all clamoring as each scene came to a close. Patrick Brown’s Scar squaring off against Mufasa (Gerald Ramsey) re-created the tension and angst made famous in the Disney film. The music filled the hall and Drew Hirschfield’s Zazu stole every scene in that opening act, nailing punchline after punchline.

When the drama intensifies, the march of hyenas is truly awesome ahead of the tragedy set to come.

As the story shifts, the older Simba partners with Timon and Pumba to avoid responsibility just the original film portrayed. Ben Lipitz’s Pumba performance is certain to make adult and child alike laugh out loud before the story returns the serious tones.

The costumes and stage design is a true marvel. Original songs (“Chow Down” and “The Madness of King Scar”) become a bit too tedious and the opening of Act Two drags on before the “real action” resumes. Fans of the film will not be disappointed and in fact, will be amazed as the giant creatures recreated and the humanizing of these beasts to make us feel that they are actually, well….feeling.

Young actors are not to blame for “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” falling short of the grand scale we know from the film and Nick Cordileone’s green costuming never blends into the scenery and distracts from his great Timon performance.

By the way, there are a couple of modernizing of the jokes from the 1994 film and you will struggle to keep from laughing out loud.

The Lion King will play now through February 14, so there’s no excuse for missing out this incredible portrayal of Disney’s great film.

Overall The Lion King 4 out of 5 stars

Disney’s The Lion King will play Morsani Hall, Jan. 20-Feb. 14, 2016. Performances are Tuesday – Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 and 6:30 p.m. There are added 2 p.m. matinee performances on Thursday, Jan. 21, and Thursday, Jan. 28.

There is no matinee performance on Saturday, Jan. 30 (Gasparilla). Regularly priced tickets are $35-$120.

A premium seating package is available for $128.50-$178.50, and includes the best seats in the theater, a commemorative souvenir program and a complimentary show merchandise item. Tickets may be purchased by calling 813.229.STAR (7827) or 800.955.1045 outside Tampa Bay, in person at the Straz Center Ticket Sales Office or online at www.strazcenter.org. Handling fees will apply. For more information about the Straz Center for the Performing Arts and its upcoming events, please visit the Straz Center’s website at www.strazcenter.org.

"The Lion King" Broadway production arrives at the Straz Center in Tampa

“The Lion King” Broadway production arrives at the Straz Center in Tampa

About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professional in 2008 on sites like Examiner and blogs: Desk of Brian, Crazed Fanboy. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) will be a licensed Assembly of God Pastor by the Spring of 2017. "Why do we do this?" I was asked and the answer is simple. "I just want the truth. I want a source of information that tells me what's going and clearly attempts to separate opinion from fact. Set aside left and right, old and young, just point to the world and say, 'Look!'" To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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