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The Lion King Roars Into Austin

Updated: Tuesday, January 22 2013, 02:32 PM CST

There's one thing you can say about Disney: it really knows how to put on a musical. Disney's The Lion King is back at UT's Bass Concert Hall for a limited engagement run and it hasn't lost one bit of its magic.

It's safe to say that there's no "target" audience for this show. I saw couples, families, friends just about everyone can enjoy aspects of the production. Disney's fusion of actor and costume makes each animal as much a work of art as a character. And even though you can easily see the human component, it doesn't take a huge stretch of your imagination to be transported to the savannahs of Africa (in fact, actors even portray grass and plants!) This staging takes a minimalist approach, so that means some of the more spectacular scenes in the original film like the canyon stampede or Scar's hyena march in "Be Prepared" have to be reduced to more stylistic recreations.

The performances are all solid, but special recognition should go to Buyi Zama, who plays Rafiki, the show's spiritual constant, and Derek Smith, who plays Scar. Smith also played the role on Broadway and you can see that he feels totally comfortable in Scar's skin. I was a little surprised to see that the orchestra was covered, but it was fun to watch a percussionist on each side of the stage contributing to each musical number.

Want to feel old? Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of the original hand-drawn film's release. The musical opened on Broadway in 1997 and is still running today.  Disney's The Lion King continues through February 10 at Bass Concert Hall. For ticket information, go to 

To see a preview of the show, go to

By Bettie Cross

The Lion King Roars Into Austin

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