You know what the hallmark of knowing you saw an amazing show is? When you turn to complete strangers at intermission to discuss how much you all cried. Such was the case at The Lion King, showing now at The Providence Performing Arts Center. Of course, I was familiar with the movie being a Disneyaholic and all, but nothing could prepare me for the spectacle that is the stage show. The opening number literally takes your breath away, and you will be lucky to get it back by the end of the show. When the opening notes of Circle of Life fill the room, you are immediately transported to the heart of Africa, and despite the use of puppets, you find yourself so immersed you forget there are even real humans on stage.
|Buyi Zama as Rafiki filled the entire room with her amazing voice|
The Lion King follows the same basic yarn as the story we all know and love, but there are some additional songs as well. As I mentioned above, the production makes use of masks and hollow puppets to transform actors into the animals, but while allowing their own faces to also show and emote. The result is a transformative experience that seamlessly blends reality and fantasy. Also incredible was the lack of real set pieces. One would expect a show as grandiose as this to have giant set pieces in every scene, but the show utilizes actors to bring the scenery to life (you have never seen grass fields like this before!) The use of human set pieces makes the stage buzz with movement and excitement in a way that I have never seen before.
|Dashaun Young brought Simba to life|
Of course, all the performances were incredible, but Jordan Williams who played young Simba really blew me away. His Simba was full of joy and then incredible sadness and he is definitely one to watch. Mark Campbell was such a phenomenon as Scar that you may end up saying “James Earl who?” when you think of the character from now on.
The best part, of course, was sharing the experience with Zoe Monster. In a shocking turn of events, she turned to me after the show and said, “I think I might even love this one more than Wicked.” Even at 8 years-old I could see that she could see what a remarkable show this is. There is truly nothing else like it. So, grab some tissues, and someone you love and try to score some seats for The Lion King, playing through March 19 at PPACRI.