A Lion of a Show

lion king show review

(photo credit: disney world please click on image to go there.)

In my capacity as an undercover reviewer, I took it upon myself to attend the Festival of the Lion King show. I went with no prior knowledge of the show and no expectations.

That’s not entirely true. I did have some expectations. I expected a mediocre show with a thrill-level on a par with the Nemo ride.

Have you been on the Nemo ride? I’ll digress here a minute. You sit in a clamshell and move slowly around a track, and you see diorama-type displays based on scenes from the movie. The dioramas are well done, actually. But the ride is not exciting.

True, it’s for small children. So of course it’s not going to be a ride like a roller-coaster. For small kids, the Nemo ride is appropriately dull.

Appropriately dull was my expectation of the Lion King show.

It was not dull.

This was a show full of color and creativity and acrobatics and singing. It was put on in a round theater-type setting, kind of like a black-box production. There were big floats in all four corners and a moveable stage in the middle.

I don’t even remember how they got the stage into the center. When the show started, the floor was bare and there were no floats and there was no stage. Over the course of the production, more and more props came out from corner passages, so eventually the center was chock full of props and characters and dancers and singers.

There was a troupe of four monkey-character acrobats, and they put on a whole mini-show that included swinging and catching and dangling and flipping and cavorting. All without mistake or pause. And all done in a relatively small area, which was in the center of the stage area.

Then there was a pair of acrobats that came out. A rope came down out of the ceiling, and the female acrobat got attached to the rope and then got lifted up and swung around. Beautiful.
There was a guy that looked like a Maori that had a twirling baton with flames on the ends. It looked like a circle of fire that he was spinning and throwing around. Impressive.

Throughout the show there was singing, of course. Four people—two men and two women—did all of it. The older woman of the two had the finale number. Up to that point, during her numbers, I kept expecting her to let loose and really SING. She looked like she had a set of pipes that could take the roof off the building.

I don’t know if she was saving her voice for the end number, but if so, it was worth it, because, yeah, she did lift the roof off the building.

I found myself wondering where “they” found her. Under her Swahili get-up, she looked like a woman that you see on TV as the principal singer in a black church choir—the kind that ad lib and improvise like they were born doing that, the kind that have the rest of the choir all revved up with feet stamping and arms waving.

That finale, with the vocal solo that made you want to stand up and cheer, was the best part of the show.

I would go again.