Oh, I Just Can't Wait For The King
Running until the 6th of May at the Solaire Theatre is a travelling production of the stage musical The Lion King. Composed primarily of South Africans, this production is a wonderful journey into the magical possibilities of live theatre and should not be missed. Based on the classic 1994 Animated Disney film, which was turned into a musical in 1997, this musical proudly owns the record of being the highest grossing Broadway production of all time; and its a unique treat to have it staged here in Manila.
Employing shadow play, hollowed out puppets, and special costumes to depict the animals, this is a wonderful example of how transitioning an animated film into a staged spectacle can be imaginatively achieved. That the story is so familiar and can be enjoyed by children of a young and tender age is a bonus. If this will be your child’s introduction to live theatre, consider him or her spoiled for life; as this one enthrals and enchants like no other. On the night I watched, it was so great to hear young children laughing at all the right moments, captivated by the antics of Timon and Pumba in particular. Their unbridled laughter was so charming as it reminded me of my first brush with live theatre at the age of 9.
To the musical’s credit, they change and add things a bit; expanding on the Elton John-penned tunes of the animated movie. One immediate enchanting surprise is how Rafiki becomes a woman; and if you had to hand out Awards for best set of pipes for the night, she would have romped away with the prize. Scar is the other standout vocally, as his character best integrates the interplay between acting and singing. When you consider Jeremy Irons in the film is our peg, you have to applaud the actor who breathes life into the stage role. As for sheer physicality, dextrously acting, singing, & moving around, while manipulating their puppet exoskeletons, Timon and the hyenas get my admiration.
The set design, how they recreate Pride Rock, the elephant graveyard, the stampede where Mufasa meets his end, are all delightful, highlighting imagination and creativity. And if you do have children with you when you watch, look out for the faces during the Circle of Life as the various animals of the African savannah head to the stage - none cuter than the baby elephant.
At Solaire until the 6th of May, the Lion King rules!
photos from @thelionkingph