Wait is over to see African King

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Business - Tanya MacNaughton

THE au­di­ence could feel the love ra­di­ate from the stage on Satur­day night when award-win­ning Dis­ney mu­si­cal The Lion King opened at Crown The­atre Perth and the feel­ing to­wards the cast was mu­tual.

It had taken 18 years for the Broad­way smash-hit by di­rec­tor Julie Tay­mor, based on the beloved an­i­mated film, to make it to Perth and the high ex­pec­ta­tion to be thrilled was re­warded.

Much of the magic is in the mu­sic and it is dif­fi­cult to imag­ine any­one not welling up with emo­tion when the show opened with the joy­ous Cir­cle of Life.

The Aus­tralian-pro­duced stage mu­si­cal fea­tures per­form­ers from Aus­tralia, New Zealand, South Africa and be­yond as the African sa­van­nah springs to life with lion cub Simba, who “just can’t wait to be king” un­til tragedy strikes.

Young Simba and Nala, played by Camp­bell Nathan and Sab­rina Sialeipata, are bun­dles of tal­ented fun with con­ta­gious en­thu­si­asm, while their adult coun­ter­parts Nick Afoa and Joss­lynn Hlenti are flaw­less in their em­bod­i­ment of lead lion and li­on­ess.

It is hard to be­lieve The Lion King is the pro­fes­sional stage de­but for Afoa and Rob Collins (Mu­fasa), both de­liv­er­ing their roles like sea­soned per­form­ers.

The Lion King vet­eran Buyi Zama, who plays Rafiki, brings a vi­tal­ity to the char­ac­ter, de­spite the South African hav­ing per­formed it in var­i­ous in­ter­na­tional pro­duc­tions since her West End de­but in 2002.

Her scene speak­ing in Sotho is a high­light and is one of six in­dige­nous African lan­guages spo­ken in the pro­duc­tion.

Jamie McGre­gor as meerkat Ti­mon and John Xin­tavelo­nis as warthog Pum­baa are a com­edy duo with im­pec­ca­ble tim­ing and bring wel­come re­lief from scenes fea­tur­ing the me­nac­ing Scar.

Josh Quong Tart un­der­takes the role of Simba’s evil un­cle with such dra­matic pre­ci­sion, he still scared this 30-some­thing re­viewer.

Stretch­ing his pup­petry skills for the first time as horn­bill Zazu is The Au­dreys’ found­ing mem­ber Cameron Goodall, get­ting the priv­i­lege of some of the best lines in the pro­duc­tion.

Tay­mor’s vi­sion for bring­ing The Lion King to the stage was rev­o­lu­tion­ary in 1997 with its in­no­va­tive pup­petry, sets and cos­tumes and is still just as glo­ri­ous a the­atri­cal ex­pe­ri­ence to­day.

The heart and soul of South Africa is in Perth and it re­ceived a well-de­served stand­ing ova­tion from the au­di­ence to show

our grat­i­tude.

Pic­tures: An­drew Ritchie www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d446845

The Lion King sea­son runs un­til Fe­bru­ary 28. View our on­line photo gallery at www.com­mu­ni­tynews.com.au.

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