Pin It
Favorite

Fall Arts Preview - The Lion King 

by Michael Bowen & r & Disney's animated film of The Lion King made its debut 11 years ago, and maybe you're a little rusty, so let's review: Gazelles prance, savannah comes alive, Pride Rock rises out of the mist. King Mufasa holds his cub aloft, whispers a message: Cherish the Circle of Life, and while you're at it, stay away from those hyenas. But Mufasa has an evil brother. Scar starts a stampede, blames it on Simba, even orders a hit on his nephew. Simba has to leave town and meet a meerkat, a warthog and the requisite love interest before realizing that he's the once and future king whose to-do list contains just one teensy item: He needs to kill the uncle who murdered his father. Is this sounding like Hamlet yet?


While you may remember the outlines of the movie, however, the stage version of The Lion King -- now that's a whole different kind of wildcat. For one thing, the theatrical score adds three more Tim Rice and Elton John songs to the original five, along with African music that makes use of all manner of instruments: congas and bongos and cowbells; drums made out of nutshells, calfskin and logs; and a "mbira," a calabash gourd from Zimbabwe fitted with two dozen pluckable metal prongs.


There's another way that the staged Lion King advances beyond the animated movie: The theatrical version offers its own kind of special effects. Director Julie Taymor's African-mask costumes merge the human with the animal, the animal with the human. Ironically, by making no attempt to conceal the magic, they enhance the animistic magic that's at the heart of African folklore. Stoic masks sit atop expressive faces; bunraku puppeteers, in full view of the audience, manipulate five-foot-tall puppets using poles; shadow puppets appeal to the kid's source of wonder in all of us. A series of rollers with successively larger paintings, with humans wearing oversize masks in the foreground, seemingly put the audience right in the middle of the wildebeest stampede.


A cast of more than 40 performers create such dazzling effects. The second national touring company since the show's 1997 Broadway premiere visits Spokane's Opera House for an Oct. 27-Dec. 4 run. The "Cheetah Company" features Rufus Bonds Jr. as Mufasa, Larry Yanko as Scar and Wallace Smith as Simba.


Both the kids and parents who see them perform will emerge wide-eyed from a theater spectacle that's distinct from watching the Lion King DVD over and over at home. Theatergoers at the Opera House will find themselves entranced, but with a twist. Movies nearly always conceal their sources of illusion, offering no answer to questions like "How did they blow up all those spaceships?" But a stage spectacular like The Lion King can simultaneously convey the results and the sources of magic. You won't leave the Opera House wondering how it was done, because you saw it being done.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Cherry Pitfalls
  • Cherry Pitfalls

    Why fruit is rotting on trees while workers wait at the border
    • Jul 1, 2015
  • The Real Threats
  • The Real Threats

    What worries Spokane's sheriff; plus, Washington's lawmakers finally hash out a budget
    • Jul 1, 2015
  • Party of Five?
  • Party of Five?

    Why Spokane County's newest commissioner is leading the fight to add two more
    • Jul 1, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
Moscow ArtWalk 2015

Moscow ArtWalk 2015 @ Downtown Moscow

Tuesdays, Thursdays, Sundays. Continues through Aug. 31

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • The Rachel We Knew

    EDITOR'S NOTE: How Rachel Dolezal came to write for the Inlander
    • Jun 18, 2015
  • The Real Rachel Dolezal

    The story goes far beyond just a white woman portraying herself as black
    • Jun 17, 2015
  • More »

© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation