The Lion King – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

For more than two decades,” Disney’s The Lion King” has fascinated children and adults alike and now it is coming to Hartford’s Bushnell Center for the Arts for three weeks until Sunday, August 19, Don’t miss this spectacular theatrical event that follows the story of a baby lion cub Simba as he learns about life on the African savannah from his parents as he prepares to be King of the Jungle.The intriguing role of the young lion prince is shared by Joziyah Jean-Felix and Salahedin Safi, rambunctious as a young pup as each tries on the mantle of leadership and tests his limitations.

The role of Simba’s best friend Nala is shared by Danielle W. Jalade and Gloria Manning, as each investigate their own adventure into forbidden territory, the land in the dark shadows in the elephant graveyard, lured there by Simba’s menacing and jealous uncle Scar, a diabolical Mark Campbell. As brother of the King Mufasa, a caring Gerald Ramsey, Scar is on a mission to destroy Mufasa, and also Simba, so he can ascend Pride Rock as ruler.

This incredible musical extravaganza is stuffed with color and creativity. The masks, costumes and puppetry have to be seen to be believed as the aisles and the stage are filled with elephants, giraffes, gazelles, ostriches, flying birds, a rhinoceros, hyenas, lions and even a lovable warthog named Pumbaa created by Ben Lipitz or William John Austin and his best pal Timon created by Robbie Swift. A lot of the humor can be found in the opinionated Zazu, a bird feathered well in the hands of Greg Jackson.

After a frightening incident orchestrated by Scar, the young Simba runs away, meets Pumbaa and Timon, and returns as a fully grown adult lion, strongly created by Jared Dixon. He is reunited with his childhood pal Nala, now grown into the lovely Nia Holloway who convinces Simba to challenge Scar for his rightful place as monarch. Elton John and Tim Rice deserve credit for music and lyrics, with book by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi. Julie Taymor is responsible for much of the costume and puppetry magic as well as directing this feast of fur and feathers. The incredible choreography is due to the talents of Garth Fagan.

For tickets ($30 and up ), call the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Avenue, Hartford at 860-987-5900 or online at Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and8 p.m. and sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

You will feel the love tonight as you join the circle of life and let Mukelisiwe Goba’s Rafiki guide you into this mysterious and magical world where the kingdom of magnificent African animals roam free.