Dec. 15 will mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Walt Disney. Long live Walt Disney!
His kingdom endures, and a notable feature of it is on stage at Proctors for another three weeks. "The Lion King" is, as some have said about a Mahler symphony, an event: huge, immersive and discursive.
Unlike a Mahler symphony, however, this spectacle is just fine for kids. Maybe it’s best for kids. I fought to stay awake during the climax and denouement — er, last quarter of Act II. (Check out your Facebook postings and see the happy faces of children who stayed up past their bedtimes. One of my friends showed her grandson joyfully touting the Hyenas, and, indeed, there is so much going on all the time that everyone will have favorite moments.)
’The Lion King’
WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: Through April 17
HOW MUCH: $170-$20
MORE INFO: 346.6204 or proctors.org
I did, too. Herewith, in no particular order, are mine.
1. Stuff that happens all over the theater: drummers and singers in the boxes and balconies, actors coming down the aisles.
2. Scar. Well, everyone loves a stage villain when you know there’s no chance he’ll prevail. At times Patrick R. Brown reminded me of a refugee from “Mad Max,” but I also thought about “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and, sure enough, he once played Frankenfurter. His dead-pan delivery and English accent (a nasty touch of colonialism in the Serengeti?) works just fine.
3. Mukelisiwe Goba as Rafiki. Goba’s energy kickstarts the whole show and reinvigorates it whenever she comes on. The character is a kind of seer and spiritual guide, with her own sense of humor that sometimes only she seems to understand, and Goba has great fun with the role.
4. BJ Covington as Young Simba (nicely complemented by Savanna Fleisher as Young Nala). Covington is winning as a headstrong and curious lion cub, dancing and singing and interacting affectionately with his proud father, Mufasa (played with authority by Gerald Ramsey), until his self-imposed banishment when he mistakenly thinks he has killed Mufasa.
5. “Shadowland,” featuring Goba and Nia Holloway as the grown Nala. Despite the fact that I couldn’t understand some of the words (a problem with musical numbers throughout because of some miking imbalances), I liked the song’s high energy.
6. Nick Cordileone as Timon, the meerkat. Wise-cracking, impatient, self-absorbed — kids secretly love to have a smart-mouthed friend like Timon, but they’re leery of being too much like him themselves. Cordileone voices and manipulates the puppet with aplomb.
7. Finally, the visual spectacle. Director and costume designer Julie Taymor, choreographer Garth Fagan, scenic designer Richard Hudson, and lighting designer Donald Holden make the kid in every adult absolutely wide-eyed with appreciation for magically stimulating the senses. Color, movement, scale: For me there could have been no plot, and maybe even no lyrics, and I would have enjoyed just looking, making up my own story as things went along.