The [Lion] King Has Returned to Vancouver!


From the time you hear first note of Disney's THE LION KING's signature opening song, The Circle of Life, sung by Tshidi Manye as Rafiki, it was evident you are not watching any ordinary musical. It is imperative that you are not late for this musical, as you will miss the greatest opening ever! I do not want to spoil it for those who are seeing for the first time but think of that sense of awe you felt when you first watched the opening sequence in The Lion King on screen. You will experience that exact same feeling during the opening of the musical; the scene was very true to the movie. At times, the stage did not seem big enough to fit all the elaborate costumes. The strong vocals of the opening and impressive set design set the bar for the rest of the musical.

Tre' Jones who played young Simba conveyed the spunky rebellious young lion cub very well. Young Simba and Nala (Mikari Tarpley) carried the first half of the show with impressive vocal skill for eleven year olds. Zazu (Drew Hirshfield) provided comedic relief and breaks the fourth wall several times. The entire cast performed extremely well and it is hard to pick who performed best. Scar (Patrick R. Brown), Timon (Nick Cordileone) and Pumbaa (Ben Lipitz) were practically lifted from the Disney movie, their voices and mannerisms were spot on.

Jelani Remy as “Simba” and the ensemble in “He Lives in You” from THE LION KING National Tour. ©Disney. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

The set design and different animal characters help create believable surroundings in the Savannah. Each character had their own movement style, like the elegant zebras and antelopes that made the stage a very interesting place to watch. Head pieces are used instead of masks so you can see the actors expressions; actors were transparently visible when controlling the animal's costumes, allowing the audience to see the characters as animal and human at the same time. The costuming and set design is the very best I've seen in a while in Vancouver. The different colors of the set and lights are used to convey different scenes, seasons and moods. The costumes employ plenty of yellows and browns often found in the grasslands of the Savannah.

The wildebeest stampede was very well done with use of background and different sized masks to show depth and create a herd of wildebeest stampeding toward the audience. The scene where Mufasa dies is one of the saddest scenes in Disney movies and watching Tre' Jones portray Simba at this particular moment was heartbreaking.

The dancing is very graceful and combined with the singing, there are a lot of fun scenes that convey the joy of Africa. The Lion King features familiar and new original songs written by the original songwriters, Elton John and Tim Rice, just for the musical. The audience will recognize the songs from the original Lion King as well as the sequel. I loved Simba's original solo, "Endless Night" sung by Jelani Remy, where he sings about his loneliness and bitterly recalls Mufasa's promise to always be there for him. It is a sad song but ends with a glimmer of hope.

I can see why this is the world's number one musical; the set, costuming and choreography were top notch. Disney's THE LION KING had a well deserved standing ovation on Friday night of opening week. Make sure to see this astounding musical while it is in town! It is one you don't want to miss!

Performances run from now through Sunday July 12th at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre:

Week 1: Thursday, June 18 through Saturday, June 20 evenings at 7:30pm, Sunday, June 21 evening at 6:30pm. Matinees runSaturday, June 20 at 2pm, Sunday, June 21 matinee at 1pm.

Week 2: Tuesday, June 23 through Saturday, June 27 evenings at 7:30pm, Sunday June 28 evening at 6:30pm. Matinees runThursday, June 25 and Saturday, June 27 at 2pm, Sunday, June 28 at 1pm.

Week 3: Tuesday, June 30 through Saturday, July 4 evenings at 7:30pm, Sunday, July 5 at 6:30pm, matinees Saturday, July 4 at 2pmand Sunday, July 5 at 1pm.

Week 4: Tuesday, July 7 through Saturday, July 11 evenings at 7:30pm. Matinees run Thursday, July 9 at 2pm, Saturday, July 11 at 2pm and Sunday, July 12 at 1pm.

Tickets for Disney’s THE LION KING vary in range depending on performance, seat location, and date of purchase and start at $35.00 plus applicable service fees.

Disney’s THE LION KING in Vancouver, presented by Broadway Across Canada, is part of a North American tour through September 2015. Find more information and buy tickets, please visit the Broadway Across Canada website.

For more information worldwide, visit

Disclosure: Tickets to the show were received from Broadway Across Canada free of charge. The opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own and have not been influenced in any other way.

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