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2008-01-19 23:53:10

The Lion King: A Critique

Last night I saw The Lion King in Pittsburgh. It was a great show, but it had a few things that made me wonder, "why?" My favorite song of the whole show, I Just Can't Wait To Be King, is sung by the young Simba. In this show, young Simba was played by either an 8 year old or an 11 year old (they switch on and off). During this song, the choreography is rather ridiculous. Both young Simba and young Nala are running around, jumping, and dancing all while singing. This feat is hard enough for a trained vocalist, but it was very obvious it was extremely difficult for a young child. Some of the notes weren't hit and you could hear a bit of exhaustion in their voices. Of course, they're children, you can't expect the performance of a professional opera singer. But because of this, you shouldn't be making them sing while exerting themselves so much. Bad director, bad. There were a few scenes where the lions used their paws to claw at each other. I thought that was great. That's what lions really do. But when it came to the big fights, all of a sudden the lions became samurai warriors. Seriously? Swords? That made no sense to me. The only possible explanation I can imagine is that the director wanted the swords to be viewed as an extension of the lions' claws. But even that's a stretch. Aside from the guy playing Timon being a Martin-Short-Ed-Grimley double (seriously, he sounded exactly like him... exactly), he was all green. I totally understand the need to separate the handler from the puppet, so that the puppet is a focal point. But when trying to make something a focal point, you don't dress the other thing in a bright color. Granted, it wasn't neon green, but it was green enough to make me keep looking at the guy rather than the puppet. There was only one scene where the green color actually made sense, when Timon laid down in the grass for a nap. At that point, it was good that the guy was green, because the puppet actually appeared to be alive and on it's own. But other than that, the green didn't work for me. Every time a lion died, it was thrown off a cliff. To achieve this effect without hurting the cast, the to-be-dead lion was connected to wires, "flown" off the cliff, and set on the ground, all in slow-motion. This really threw off the momentum of the entire fight sequence. What I would have done to at least make it seem more realistic is to start the slow-motion at the start of the fatal blow. This way, the entire climax of the fight would be in slow-motion, instead of just the very end.
Other than those things, the show was great. You should definitely go see it.


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