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"Individual voices that rise to state their case include . . . Jason Raize as the adult Simba in Lebo M's Endless Night and Tsidii Le Loka as Rafiki in Circle of Life." --Dayton Daily News review of The Lion King Original Cast Recording

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Dayton Daily News (Dayton, OH)
Recordings on Review
by Terry Morris
January 2, 1998

Original Cast Recording

The live production of Beauty and the Beast is a remarkably faithful re-creation of the film, right down to the dancing plates and silverware.

Disney's new Broadway spectacle, The Lion King, is decidedly its own animal. Its leap from on-screen animation to living stage spectacle has included a direct evolutionary turn toward Africa, which is powerfully evident in the newly released original cast recording.

Although composer and lyricist Elton John and Tim Rice still own top billing, the musical's aural force is now dominated by South African sensation Lebo M, who won a Grammy for his arrangement of the movie soundtrack.

Lebo M is responsible for many of the most compelling additions to the Broadway score, which includes just five songs from the film - Circle of Life, I Just Can't Wait to Be King, Be Prepared, Hakuna Matata and Can You Feel the Love Tonight? - and is now as much about pride in the land as it is about a cub who will be king.

John and Rice have added new numbers - the Gilbert and Sullivan-esque Morning Report, the rocking Chow Down, and The Madness of King Scar.

But Lebo's injections of African rhythms and a South African-style ensemble singing and chanting in Sesotha and Swahili consistently soar to preeminence.

The African and European cultures don't always mesh, which is the main complaint about a recording that is sprinkled with gems. Considering that this is an invention of American culture - the Broadway musical - the juxtapositions are acceptable.

Individual voices that rise to state their case include Heather Headley as Nala on Shadowland, Samuel E. Wright as Mufasa in They Live In You (by Mark Mancina), Jason Raize as the adult Simba in Lebo M's Endless Night and Tsidii Le Loka as Rafiki in Circle of Life.

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