I’m in a list mood today, so here are my top 10 observations, questions and comments regarding my viewing of “The Lion King” onstage at The Kennedy Center:
1. The costumes and puppetry are fairly spectacular, especially the giraffes. That must be very uncomfortable, however, for the actors.
2. The visuals far outshone the performances. In fact, with a few exceptions, a more traditional show might have been a bit disappointing.
3. I’m not sure why Rafiki has to be played by a woman. I take no issue with it, but is there a reason? I suppose it’s the same deal as Peter Pan being played by a female. Again, reason? Not a defense.
4. Of the songs brought over from the film, the best stagings/performances were of “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” and “Hakuna Matata.” The former, particularly, was a visual delight. Drew HIrschfiled, as Zazu, is a real standout.
5. Ben Lipitz, as Pumbaa, and Nick Cordileone, as Timon, do Ernie Sabella and Nathan Lane proud.
6. Someone explain to me why a serious heart-to-heart with his son motivated Mufasa to take off his own head?
7. The songs that were not in the original movie added very little.
8. In particular, “He Lives in You,” written for the album “Rhythm of the Pride Lands,” and used in the Disney sequel, “Return to Pride Rock,” could be perceived as portraying Mufasa as a God-like being.
9. This production is a lot less white than the animated film. I mean, obviously cartoon animals don’t have race in the exact way humans do, but Simba in the movie was voiced by Matthew Broderick, and Matthew Broderick is really, really white.
10. All in all, not my favorite musical production I’ve ever seen on stage, but definitely worthwhile, especially if you are somehow with an appreciation for visual arts. The scenes in the pride lands are like paintings come alive.