Metro-East Living

‘Lion King’ at the Fox is a majestic production

Buyi Zama is Rafiki in the national tour of “The Lion King,” now playing at The Fox Theatre in St. Louis.
Buyi Zama is Rafiki in the national tour of “The Lion King,” now playing at The Fox Theatre in St. Louis.

No matter if it’s your first time or if you have seen it before, “The Lion King” is an extraordinary experience.

The current national tour, now at The Fox Theatre, is a soaring, swooping spectacle set on the Serengeti. From its jaw-dropping, goosebumps-inducing opening to its satisfying conclusion, this majestic production dazzles and delights all ages.

With its fusion of pop music and distinctive African rhythms, the score transports us to a different world. Revolutionary director Julie Taymor’s visual artistry transforms the ensemble into animals through costumes, masks and puppetry.

Crisp and snappy in presentation, the touring show excels on all levels. Eye-popping costumes, fleet dancers and lithe performers convey animal movements to make this beloved work pulsate. The lighting design enhances emotion, and the fluid set design advances the story seamlessly.

Recently, the show celebrated its 20th year on Broadway, currently the third-longest running, and is now the top entertainment title in box office history, surpassing all other Broadway musicals and films.

It’s no surprise why. ​

Adapted from the 1994 Disney animated movie, “The Lion King” is about the struggles of a pride of lions. Mufasa is the imposing leader, and he and wife Sarabi welcome Simba, a rambunctious and precocious cub. But Mufasa’s evil, conniving brother Scar schemes to assume the crown, setting a sad and scary story in motion.

The leading actors are all first-rate triple threats, displaying expert timing and strong vocals — Gerald Ramsey as Mufasa, Dashaun Young as adult Simba, and Mark Campbell as villain Scar.

Impressive women are Nia Holloway as adult Nala and St. Louis native Sophia Stephens as Sarabi, Simba’s mother.

Two boys alternate as the young Simba — Devin Graves and Jordan Williams, adorable and spry. Young Nala is either energetic Grier Burke or Meilani Cisneros. They win everyone over with “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King.”

Scar’s henchmen seethe with menace — Tiffany Denise Hobbs, Keith Bennett and Robbie Swift — play spotted hyenas Shenzi, Banzai and Ed.

But the standouts are the colorful animal characters — Mukelisiwe Goba is the dynamic mandrill Rafiki, leading the awe-inspiring “The Circle of Life” with powerful pipes, and providing humor throughout.

Drew Hirshfield is a very funny red-billed hornbill Zazu while Nick Cordileone as meerkat Timon and Ben Lipitz as warthog Pumbaa are a hilarious comedy duo. Their “Hakuna Matata” is always a high point.

Elton John and Tim Rice’s Oscar-winning song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and the dramatic “He Lives in You” tug at the heartstrings.

While the second act does seem a little padded with elongated production numbers, overall “The Lion King” is unique, uplifting and unforgettable.

Want to go?

  • What: “The Lion King”
  • When: Now through May 7
  • Where: Fox Theatre, 527 N. Grand, St. Louis
  • Details: www.fabulousfox.com
  • MetroTix: 314-534-1111
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