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The movie we all know and love is even better on the Las Vegas big stage.
One of my earliest childhood memories is from when I was eight years old, when I stayed home from school for the first time because I was sick. Before my mom left for work that day, she handed me a Sprite and a video of “The Lion King.” My sickness slipped my mind as I experienced one of the most magical and powerful cinematic experiences in my young life.
Now 22, I recently had the chance to relive that experience, minus the sickness, on a stage at the Mandalay Bay Theatre in Las Vegas. This experience will also be one I remember for years to come.
Upon my arrival to the Mandalay Bay Theatre, the first thing I noticed was the bar. It’s massive. There were many alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to choose from. I decided to skip on the drinks this time.
The usher who escorted my friend and me to our seats was very pleasant. He was an older gentleman with a comforting grandpa sense of humor. He kept pointing out how wonderful our seats were. And it was true. Though no seat in the theatre was bad, and everyone could see the stage just fine, ours were among the best.
The show started on time. Not many shows I’ve been to start within a few minutes of the scheduled time, let alone the exact minute.
I was captivated. Masterpiece is the only word to describe it. I felt like I was in the middle of the story and not just watching it. Like I was a friend of one of the characters who just stood around and never talked. It wasn’t just a completed project that I watched on a screen. The story unfolded before my eyes, acted out on a stage and even in the aisles, like I was being invited directly into it.
The acting was superb. Though every actor and actress did a wonderful job, I especially enjoyed the boy who played Young Simba (played by D.Asante Ervin and Elijah Johnson). The actor on this night perfectly captured the innocence of a young lion stuck between good and evil. There were times during the show that I forgot he was acting. Now that’s impeccable acting, considering he was dressed in a lion costume.
The Las Vegas adaptation stayed true to the original plotline. But there was also some new dialogue that related to the times and made it feel like a new experience. An example of this occurred during my favorite scene. Mufasa tells Zazu (the bird) about possibly firing him. Zazu replies, “In this economy?” and then lets out a hysterical yell, “Ahh!!”
Another great scene was the stampede. I had no idea how they could reenact a stampede on a limited-space stage. This is just another example of the talented group of people behind the show.
Before the intermission, Timon and Pumbaa sang “The Lion King” classic, “Hakuna Matata.” It was just how I remembered it, beautifully sung, putting smiles and child-like giddiness in the audience’s souls. Since it was right before the intermission, you heard everyone singing it (myself included) as they walked into the common area. It was like we were all reliving a part of our childhoods that the stress of adulthood made us forget. It’s nice to be reminded of hakuna matata—no worries—for the rest of our days.
The rest of the show continued with perfection. The music, classic Elton John songs, could have only been done better if John himself performed them. Not one note was missed, staying true to the originals with a new spin to some of the riffs, allowing the audience to see a more intimate side of the characters.
Not one part of this show could have possibly been done better. The script, costumes, acting, props, music, hospitality of the theater—all flawless.
I walked out of the theater in awe, pondering the philosophical implication of the show brought out in the song “Circle of Life.” As you spin around the circle of life, through the despair and hope, faith and love, I hope it takes you to “The Lion King” at the Mandalay Bay Theater in Las Vegas. You won’t regret it.
* Effective September 8, “The Lion King” will be performed Monday through Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets are available for $53, $86, and $113.50.
“The Lion King”