Sunday, April 13, 2014

Disney's "The Lion King" ROARS into Atlanta's Fox Theatre!

Wow.  What more can be said besides, "WOW?"  ...and ALL CAPS at that.

By now, almost all of us have seen (or surely heard of) Disney's once most-successful animated feature, "The Lion King."  (The Lion King was recently toppled as Disney's most-successful animated film by the blockbuster Frozen.)

This stage adaptation of the famous movie has been going strong and shows no signs of slowing down as it approaches its 20-year Anniversary.  You may remember this little 15th Anniversary celebration on Good Morning America a few years ago.  It is, arguably, one of the most well-known and popular musical numbers from the show, "Circle of Life:"

Nothing stirs a Disney fan's heart more than the first uttering of song from Rafiki, where our primate friend calls out to the Prideland, summoning one and all to come and gather at Pride Rock for a presentation of the newest cub to the pride's royal family.  It has been said this first song creates such a rich African tapestry that it immediately transports us into the beauty and awesomeness of the African savannah.

I was more than blessed last night to receive media tickets for this event.  Lucky for me, the media tickets this go 'round (you never know where they might be located) where Orchestra level, left center.  As a true Disney and Lion King fan, I was elated when Brave PR handed me the ticket envelope and I opened it up to see the location.  I felt like Charlie when he had been given that last candy bar, and he slowly unwrapped it to see the golden ticket inside.

I quickly made my way to my seat and buckled in.  The last time I saw this performance was at Atlanta's Civic Center, and my family was high in the balcony.  All I could do was look down.  Tonight, I was going to be seated right in the middle of the action!

In case you are unfamiliar with The Lion King musical play, let me clue you in on a little secret -- the play begins from the BACK of house.  The animals make their way to the stage (Pride Rock) from the back of the theatre, down through the aisles, and up two sets of staircases to the Savannah -- elephants, wildebeests, birds, antelopes, and more.  It is a sight to behold.  Imagine hearing children and adults alike gasping, cheering, and clapping when they realized what was going on all around them. 

I said this last night, and I'll say it again now -- any play that is put on by Broadway ATL is top notch, but when you combine that with the level of quality that only Disney can provide - well, there is just too much musical magic for any one person.

As the play continued, it was all I expected it to be, and I could not have been happier.  I have heard about this play for years, and the Atlanta Fox Theatre production did not disappoint.  The Lion King is rich and abundant in African scenery, deep colors, and flavored music.  Music we have all listened to and loved for 20 years still sounds as fresh and as fun as it did in the 90s.  The theatrical production is a mirror image of the animated film, with a few more songs (written by Tim Rice and Elton John) added in.

The play runs two and a half hours long, with one 15-minute intermission, so make sure all bathroom breaks and concessions are secured before the show starts.  Also, the theatre has a 10-minute seating hold, so keep that in mind if you are running late.  You will not be permitted to enter the theatre until after the opening number since the cast and crew are actually making their way to the stage thru the house.

The actors and actresses in this play are nothing less than amazing - strong talent - from acting and singing to the puppetry arts (including two SUPERB younger talents - 10-year olds Jordan Hall as Simba and Nya Carter as Nala).

I was amazed at how many of the people around me shouted out, cheered, and gave standing ovations.  I love when adults, not just children, get wrapped up in Disney and the arts.

The Lion King will be having a long run here in Atlanta -- three weeks, playing now through April 27th.  The show plays Tuesday through Thursday evenings at 7:30PM, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00PM, and Sunday evenings at 6:30PM, as well as matinees on Saturday at 2:00PM and Sundays at 1:00PM.  (A special weekday matinee will take place on Thursday, April 17 at 2:00PM.) 

Tickets are available at the Fox Theatre Box Office (660 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30308), online at, or by calling 1-855-ATL-TIXX.  Orders for groups of twenty (20) or more may be placed by calling 404-881-2000.

I highly recommend you go see The Lion King while you have an opportunity.  It is always a special time for the arts in Atlanta when Disney comes to town.

I leave you with this "rousing" number by Scar (the villain of our show), just posted by The Lion King's facebook page, along a few astonishing facts.

Interesting facts about The Lion King:
  • Ten times a day, all over the world, the cry in the African language of Zulu rings out in a darkened theater:  "Nants ingonyama bagithi baba!  Sithi uhhmm ingonyama!"  ("Here comes a lion, Father.  Oh yes, it's a lion.")

  • The North American travel company travels in 18 trucks (14 are tractor-trailers that haul duplicates of everything)!

  • Each city The Lion King travels to needs one week of set up before the show arrives and opens.

  • The Lion King is the highest-grossing show in Broadway history!

  • The Lion King still fills it's Broadway home to capacity, 17 years later!

  • The Lion King uses six African native languages, and all companies include native South African performers (the Atlanta show has six).

  • The original Broadway recording of The Lion King can be listened to for **FREE** on Spotify!

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