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'Lion' evokes African spirit

By Vershay Burks
On February 7, 2017

I am not a huge fan of musicals, but I made an exception for “The Lion King” at Detroit Opera House.

The Disney film compares nothing to the wonderful stage production.

It was like the audience got to experience Africa in Detroit. There were spiritual aspects to the show that came out through the African dances, dialects and music.

One of the most amazing things were the puppet-like costumes and the animal masks the actors wore.

Although there were only 49 cast members, more than 200 colorful puppets were used in the show.

There was no attempt to hide the actors in their costumes. Rather, the costumes served as magical embellishments.

While the actors brought human qualities to their costumes, the African styled bead work, the silk cloth, corsets and armor brought out the animal in each character.

These costumes gave the audience the important task of using imagination to bring the human and animal together as a whole.

The energy of the cast kept the audience electrified and engaged.

In the beginning the audience were stunned as 18-foot exotic giraffes, 13-foot long elephants, wildebeests and lionesses danced down the aisles to celebrate the birth of Simba.

The music kept the audience engaged. We sang along to “Circle of Life” and “Hakuna Matata.”

A conductor led the music performance.

Drummers played from the balconies.

And the set and props were just as astonishing.

The contrast between the Pridelands and the Elephant Graveyard was obvious – the Pridelands full of life and light, the Elephant Graveyard gray and dead.

Everyone who has watched the movie knows that Mufasa dies and Scar becomes king. The set designer did a great job making the Pridelands desolate under Scar.

When Simba claimed the throne, the light returned to the Pridelands and the “Circle of Life” repeated.

Besides the liveliness in the costumes and dances, what I loved most was the acting.

The performers evoked the right emotions at the right time, and when it came to singing they did a phenomenal job.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate this musical a 100. 

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