Thursday, 18 August 2011

OH I just can’t wait to be King!


The LION KING at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands theatre is truly a performance one shouldn’t miss.  The cast is dynamic, well-rehearsed and energetic.  The ‘African’ element was generally very well maintained throughout the entire performance with the exception of several scenes which ‘modernised’ the original script and movie.  Personally, I found these scenes a little too ‘Western’ in style and lacked the ‘African authenticity’ which the original movie was famous for.  The acting was generally well-executed with very few exceptions and most performers injected moments of humour and worked with newly scripted jokes (which were primarily play-on-words).  The first half opened well with the first song as the sunrise greets the birth of Simba.  Despite how attached many of us have become to this opening song, it lacked a certain amount of energy, which was later made up for by all performers.  The harmonies were intact, just lacked the ‘vibrating walls’ and ‘goose bumps’ factor.  Perhaps the theatre microphones and sound could have been to blame.  The rest of the first half seemed to drag a little at times, and had a few additions scripted in that didn’t seem to bind the scenes together as well as the movie did.  

The interval came at an awkward time, as there were two climaxes the first half could have finished well with.  Nonetheless, it was Timon and Pumbaa that stole the show with their superbly timed performance.  Simone in particular put great effort into his accent and on-stage movements.  Pumbaa started off a little weak but built his rapport with the audience very quickly, and his voice proved to be also very similar to the original Pumbaa in the video.  One could almost say that their dual performance was a show in itself and resonated well with the audience.  As mentioned several times, the second half of the play really saved the day!  The set was a little better, the vocal performance had improved in most characters but Scar still disappointed me with his lines, which lacked sufficient pauses and drama.  However, his exaggerated movements around the stage made up for it.  

As expected, Old Simba and Old Nala had stronger voices as they were older performers and they transitioned very well into the second half!  Their duet (about half-way through the second half) was beautiful.  Their mellifluous tones and harmony warmed the audience and won their hearts.  Just when I though Rafiki could not improve her already brilliant performance, she emerged with an energy and cheekiness that portrayed the original character very well.  It was her exaggeration that Scar needed to emerge with, as that dark and treacherous character as we know him in the movie.  Rafiki – along with Timon and Pumbaa – were the true show-stoppers (and savers) and must be commended for the effort they put into their performance. 

I came to this performance with a strong pre-disposition for a show of great calibre (thus with very high expectations).  Several years ago, my peers raved about this play as did my former choir conductor, who never handed out compliments without much thought.  He valued a quality performance and regarded the LION KING as a show with an outstanding vocal work (as well as every other element such as dancing, set design, lighting, sound etc…) So, for a compliment to come from him really encouraged me to go and see it, the only problem being the show had already finished.  I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to watch the play here, in Singapore.  The Marina Bay Sands theatres are truly spectacular and a pleasure to spend time in.  They are elegant, have a luxurious feel to them and are obviously still very new. 

If you do get a chance to visit Singapore, are currently living here or already visiting, do make a stop for one of the performances.  I promise it will be a play you’ll remember for a long time and will revive those many wonderful childhood memories of the fabulous LION KING movie!



-Music (orchestra) – 8/10
-Performers (vocal) – 8.5/10
-Performers (dancing) – 10/10
-Costumes – 10/10
-Set design 10/10

-1st half – 6/10
-2nd half – 10/10 (the first half had real potential but had a few weak moments.  Several performers - as well as the growingly energetic orchestra - saved it in the second half which was at least twice as good as the opening half.


-Moufasa – acting (8.7/10), singing (9/10)

-Scar – acting (6.7/10), singing (7/10) – his accent slipped several times and his timing was a little off.  Did not allow for enough pauses/breaks in his script.  However, his movements were well exaggerated which begged for more exaggeration in his acting.  His voice seemed a little too eloquent and not as sleazy and  conniving as Scar’s character is in the Lion King movie.

-Young Simba* – acting (7.5/10), singing (5.5/10)

-Old Simba – acting (8.5/10), singing (9/10)

-Young nala* – acting (6.7/10), singing (5.5/10)

-Old nala – acting (7.7/10), singing (8.7/10)

-Rafiki (monkey) – acting (9/10), singing (9.5/10- initially but then 10/10.  The second half allowed rafiki to reveal a fantastic voice!) Perfect intonation in general, smooth glissando, very relaxed voice (as applies to most performers, thus no harsh projections), rich and textured sound, absolutely brilliant dynamics!  Her acting was tremendous and the cheeky laughter typical of Rafiki was executed with precision.  Finally, her humour elicited much laughter from the audience. 

-Zazu (bird) – acting (9/10), singing (8.7/10)


-Timon – acting (9.5/10), singing (8.5/10)

-Pumbaa -  acting (9.5/10), singing (9.3/10)

*The above ratings may seem a little critical for the two younger cast members, however, taking their age into consideration, their overall performance was truly energetic and refreshing.  Not an easy feat for performers of their age!

THE LION KING PLAYING DATES:  March 2011- September 25th 2011

More info:

To conclude, I'll leave you with a quote from the play:  "No rules, no responsibilities, no worries"  HAKUNA MATATA!!!

haha... if only life was that easy.... :P
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