Gerald  Caesar  as  “Simba”  and  company  in  THE  LION  KING  North  American  Tour.  ©Disney.

©Disney, Photo by Deen van Meer.

Review: Dallas Summer Musicals 'The Lion King'

by Jimmy “The Saint” Christopher

June 19, 2018 - 11:37 am

The excitement buildup and anxiousness to see the return engagement of The Lion King at Fair Park Music Hall was validated by goose bumps and strong emotions from the opening scene that brought the African Pride Lands to life with the animals parading down the aisles to the stage.

Since the Broadway premiere of The Lion King in November of 1997, more than 95 million people have seen 25 global productions in more than 100 cities in 20 countries and every continent except Antarctica.  The worldwide gross exceeds that of any film, Broadway show or other entertainment title in box office history.  That’s a lot of ticket revenue.  The king of the entertainment world won six Tony Awards in 1998 and a Grammy for Best Musical Shoe Album in 1999 and many other awards.

Julie Taymor, the first woman to win a Tony for Direction of a Musical, is the show’s director, costume designer and mask co-designer.  She hits, hits with power, has speed, fields and throws, to use the baseball axiom of a five-tool player.

Choreographing actors as set pieces in her direction is pure genius with every painstaking creative scene highly effective.   And the mask, puppet and makeup design, wow!  Costuming is glorious, colorful and elaborate. 

Brilliant acting from the beginning by Mukelisiwe Goba as Rafiri with her chanting, Gerald Ramsey as Mufasa, Kimber Sprawl performing the Sarabi role, the very funny Greg Jackson as Zazu the bird, Mark Campbell as the nasty Scar, athletic Jared Dixon in the Simba role and Nia Holloway as Nala.   The rest of the cast and everyone in the ensemble as singers and dancers were sensational.

Elton John and Tim Rice wrote the score with Oscar winning “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and the haunting ballad “Shadowland.”  The distinctive rhythm of Africa is what really drives this musical.

The darkness, greed and jealousy portrayed by Scar are evident.  The Hyenas are brutal but add some humor. In the end light and goodness prevail over evil. 

Two Tips of the Saint’s Halo for this deep, spiritual and beautiful landmark musical.

Hear the roar of The Lion King at Music Hall at Fair Park Dallas through July 7th.