The Walt Disney Co.
taken some wonderfully rewarding
the new production of "The Lion
King.'' At 2 hours and 45
may be a bit long for a story
based on an 85-minute movie, but
be wide-eyed throughout the
That's because director and
costume designer Julie Taymor
ingenious creativity in turning
humans into animals, without
donning fur coats, a la "Cats.''
Puppets that she created with
Curry partially cover bodies or
heads, but always let us see the
actors, in this tale of a cub's
rise to the throne he was
give up by a villainous uncle.
The opening number alone is
enough to send you leaping from
as giant giraffes, gazelles,
cheetahs, and a galumphing
out from the wings and down the
aisles during "Circle of Life.''
visual treats continue
throughout, with bursting
sunrises, a stampede,
and comical interactions among
the diverse characters.
The story may not sustain your
interest as much as the staging,
there are some impressive
performances to accompany the
Rice score, which has been
augmented with several new
songs. Samuel E.
Wright is a powerful Lion King,
Mufasa, and John Vickery has the
oily charm as the vicious
brother, Scar. Tsidii Le Loka
mystical shaman, Rafiki, with
comical charm, and Jason Raize,
and Heather Headley, as his
girlfriend Nala, both display
personalities and sweet voices.
"The Lion King'' offers enough
eye candy to satisfy audiences
lavishness by rising helicopters
and crashing chandeliers. This
will be around for years.