Jason Raize Resource

"Jason Raize, as Simba, and Heather Headley, as his girlfriend Nala, both display charming personalities and sweet voices."
--Sarasota Herald-Tribune review of The Lion King

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<< Columbus Dispatch review of The Lion King

Sarasota Herald-Tribune (Sarasota, FL)
'Lion King' Turns Cartoon
into Visual Stage Treat

by Jay Handelman, Theater Writer
March 8, 1998


The Walt Disney Co. has taken some wonderfully rewarding chances with the new production of "The Lion King.'' At 2 hours and 45 minutes, it may be a bit long for a story based on an 85-minute movie, but you'll be wide-eyed throughout the evening.

That's because director and costume designer Julie Taymor uses ingenious creativity in turning humans into animals, without them donning fur coats, a la "Cats.'' Puppets that she created with Michael Curry partially cover bodies or heads, but always let us see the actors, in this tale of a cub's rise to the throne he was persuaded to give up by a villainous uncle.

The opening number alone is enough to send you leaping from your seat, as giant giraffes, gazelles, cheetahs, and a galumphing elephant pour out from the wings and down the aisles during "Circle of Life.'' The visual treats continue throughout, with bursting sunrises, a stampede, and comical interactions among the diverse characters.

The story may not sustain your interest as much as the staging, but there are some impressive performances to accompany the Elton John-Tim Rice score, which has been augmented with several new songs. Samuel E. Wright is a powerful Lion King, Mufasa, and John Vickery has the right oily charm as the vicious brother, Scar. Tsidii Le Loka plays the mystical shaman, Rafiki, with comical charm, and Jason Raize, as Simba, and Heather Headley, as his girlfriend Nala, both display charming personalities and sweet voices.

"The Lion King'' offers enough eye candy to satisfy audiences inured to lavishness by rising helicopters and crashing chandeliers. This one will be around for years.

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