The Lion King musical’s national tour is making its stop in Boston for the fall season, livening the stage at the Boston Opera House. It opened to audiences on Tuesday, Sept. 9, and the Office of Student Involvement organized a trip for students to see the show last Thursday.
Thursday’s cast included Patrick R. Brown (Scar), L. Steven Taylor (Mufasa), Tshidi Manye (Rafiki), Ben Lipitz (Pumbaa), Jelani Remy (Simba) and many other talented actors and actresses. The ensemble cast brought a fun and energetic performance to the audience, particularly in the entr’acte after intermission, when performers danced through the aisles in “One by One”, carrying colorful props with paper birds. The birds were mounted on long sticks attached to strings and swung in circles above the audience, bringing the performance off the stage and into the crowd.
The Lion King’s musical theatre counterpart has been a favorite since its beginnings in 1997, owing to the amazing sets and costumes, as well as the beloved music from the original Disney film. On Thursday, the theatre was packed with children and adults alike, ready to see Simba and his friends come to life on stage
When the lights dimmed, Rafiki appeared on stage and sounded the opening number, “Circle of Life,” with an ensemble animal cast including gazelles and leopards as well as amazingly costumed giraffes and elephants. The highlights of this musical in particular are the extremely detailed and colorful sets and costumes, which bring an immersive experience to those watching the transition from film to stage. Every costume has iconic characteristics that represent the character on stage, whether it is Timon’s enlarged puppet or Simba’s mask and intricate jewelry.
Brown did a wonderful job as Scar, portraying him as a terrible, likable villain while cracking deadpan, cynical jokes at the hyenas’ expense. Drew Hirshfield as Zazu also stole the show at some parts, especially with a reference to Disney’s most recent animated film, “Frozen.” After Scar’s takeover of Pride Rock, Scar locks Zazu in a cage and commands him to sing, leading to a cheeky rendition of “Let It Go”. There were multiple humorous references to current events and pop culture, demonstrating the unique aspects of each tour and performance every year the musical continues.
The two-and-a-half hour experience was lively, and audience members often sang along and grooved to the songs being performed on stage. The cast bowed to a standing ovation, and our group of Wellesley students definitely had a great time reliving our childhoods.