One of the biggest blockbuster musicals is The Lion King. Across the world this show has delighted millions of people, and of course it had to have a Vegas sized production. The Lion King replaced Mamma Mia at the Mandalay Bay Theatre in early 2009.
After seeing the previews on the website for the show I figured I had to see a Vegas sized production. The video clips on the website spoke of a larger cast, a larger stage, and an overall bigger production. I expected to see the same show I had seen on tour in San Francisco and Boston with Vegas spectacle. What I saw was not quite what I anticipated.
The show opened like all the other productions with Rafiki singing The Circle of Life. The procession of the animals was smaller than I remember from previous productions; there were fewer animals. The song The Morning Report was cut, as was the instrumental piece in the middle of Can You Feel The Love Tonight, which had a small dance sequence in the Broadway production. There were some nice additions, such as a rising platform that the performers ascended up to the stage during the Grasslands Chant as well as a more dramatic animated Stampede through the use of a moving scroll and more set pieces.
One of the major differences in the Vegas production and the Broadway production is the Vegas production seemed to follow the script of the animated Disney movie more. The Vegas production was also less theatrical, in the sense the flow of the show seemed to be focused on the song and dance numbers more than the dramatic spoken dialogue in the regular show. There was also an intermission, which is quite unusual for Vegas shows. The intermission was about fifteen minutes making the show about two and a half hours long which was surprising as I always heard the general rule of thumb for Vegas shows is not to keep people out of the casino for more than ninety minutes.
Overall I found the show to be satisfactory, but not extraordinary. With the Morning Report cut as well as the instrumental piece/ballet in Can You Feel The Love Tonight I felt the show was a live version of the film for parents to take their kids to, and there were a lot of kids there, just like at Circus Circus. If someone has seen the Broadway/touring production I would not recommend seeing the Vegas production, as it is not as phenomenal as the regular show.
The Lion King
Mon.-Thur. 7:30 p.m., Sat & Sun 4:00 and 8:00 p.m.