Total Rating: 
November 13, 1997
open run (as of September 2014)
New York
New York
Walt Disney Company
Theater Type: 
New Amsterdam Theater (moved to Minskoff Theater)
Theater Address: 
West 42nd Street
(212) 307-4747
Running Time: 
2 hrs, 45 min
Book: Roger Allers & Irene Mecchi; Music & Lyrics: Elton John & Tim Rice, w/Lebo M., Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Julie Taymor & Hans Zimmer.
Julie Taymor

 If there was a "Prize of the Century for Innovation, Imagination, and Costume Design," Julie Taymor, the director and designer of Disney's Broadway production, The Lion King, would win hands down. The extent of Taymor's contribution to The Lion King is so overwhelming, it eclipses almost all other aspects of this lively production. Where else can you find elephants, rhinos, a pride of lions, crocodiles, wildebeests, racing gazelle, antelopes sauntering down the aisles, giraffes onstage, and all types of colorfully-plumed birds flying about a theater?

The Lion Kingis not a traditional Broadway musical, but it's certainly a crowd pleaser. The show promises to be around well into the next century. Yet because there is so much spectacle and color, it's hard to connect with any one character -- whether it be The Lion King Mufasa (Samuel E. Wright), young Simba (Scott Irby-Ranniar), or the older Simba (Jason Raize). Though you want to boo him, the villain, Scar (played with all the right touches by John Vickery), almost walks off with the show. At least until the scene-stealing comic relief -- a hornbill named Zazu, a meerkat named Timon (played by Max Casella, who was Vinnie on Doogie Howser, MD), and a flatulent warthog named Pumbaa (Tom Alan Robbins) -- literally pushes him aside in Act Two.

Elton John and Tim Rice's score (five songs from the film; three written for the show) is surprisingly -- except for "Circle of Life," "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" -- overshadowed by Lebo M's exhilarating African tribal rhythms and chants.

The Lion King is now at the New Amsterdam Theater. It's not traditional Broadway, but it's hard not to get caught up in the grandeur and fun.

John Vickery (Scar), Samuel E. Wright (Mufasa), Tracy Nicole Chapman (Shenzi), Kevin Cahoon (Ed), Scott Irby-Ranniar (Young Simba), Kajuana Shuford (Young Nala), etc.
Choreography: Garth Fagan; Set: Richard Hudson; Sound: Tony Meola; Costumes: Julie Taymor; Lighting: Donald Holder; Masks/Puppets: Taymor & Michael Curry; Casting: Jay Binder; Hair/Make-up: Michael Ward; Music Dir: Joseph Church; Orchestr: Robert Elhai, David Metzger & Bruce Fowler; Music Coord: Michael Keller; Choral Dir: Lebo M; PR: Boneau/Bryan-Brown.
1998 Drama Desk: Musical Feat Actress (Le Loka), Musical Dir (Taymor); Choreog: (Fagan), Musical Set (Hudson), Costumes (Taymor), Lighting (Holder), Sound (Meola), Puppets. 1998 Drama League: Achievement (Taymor). 1998 NYDC Circle: Musical. 1998 Outer CC: Musical Dir (Taymor), Musical Feat Actress (Le Loka), Choreog (Fagan), Set (Hudson), Costumes (Taymor), Lighting (Holder). 1998 Theater World: Debut (Casella). 1998 Tony: Musical, Dir Musical (Taymor), Choreog (Fagan), Set (Hudson), Costumes (Taymor), Lighting (Holder).
Other Critics: 
AISLE SAY David Spencer ? / NEW YORK John Simon + / NY PRESS Jonathan Kalb ! / TOTALTHEATER David Lefkowitz +
Ellis Nassour
Date Reviewed: