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Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Lion King

Rarely did Iloilo see a play with much extravagance and Iloilo Prima Galaw delivers a stage worthy of our eyes to see. IPG (formerly Cultural Club back in my college days) is a group of Ilonggo artists summoned to provide the Ilonggo people with the entertainment that other organizations did not risk to present. For years now, they have staged Peter Pan, The Sound of Music and prior to the Lion King, Professor Tuko, which tackled a very sensible matter that is education in our country. Now, they come back with a more ambitious project that is The Lion King.

Based from the Walt Disney Classic and the broadway musical of the same name, The Lion King is about the coming of age of a lion named Simba as he tackles royalties most common problem, the threat of having their thrones usurped by either people (in this case, animals) outside the royal family or even close relatives. We are all familiar of Simba, Nala, Pumbaa and Timon's advebtures through Pride land. Who hasn't? I myself grew up watching this cartoons and with this, sufficient expectations were marked up when a production of a beloved Walt Disney Classic is conceived.

The play started strong as their rendition of the epic Circle of Life was delivered well and the parade of the animals was welcomed with fascination and ended with a well deserved applause. We see familiar characters light up the stage and everyone was really waiting for the coming of Timon and Pumbaa, who came out in the 2nd Act of the Play. While watching the play, I could not help myself but, of course, compare with the movie I saw for the nth time. The sets were breath-taking and it was placed strategically to accommodate the scenes in the play. Lights are used well and there were some problems with the audio at times but was remedied anyways. The costumes were ingenious and I was really impressed with Pumbaa and Timon's costumes. 

The play will never be successful if not for the actors who portray their characters well. The child who played the young Simba is a gem. He lights up the screen with his impressive diction, well-versed portrayal and surprisingly, a good voice. One of the notable characters portrayed there are of Zazu's, Ontong's Hyena (I can't recall the name), Timon and Pumbaa. Nikko Chua as Simba generates a very surprising entrance, although I felt something that somehow lacked in some of the scenes. I could've appreciated his character more if he sticked to the calm and soothing voice Simba has in the movie, but then he delivered well too. His acting prowess is seen in the entire play. DJ Ong's Mufasa is strong as the character would require and delivered it with mastery. The comic relief that Timon and Pumbaa provided was not that obvious during the first minutes but they manage to nail it in the end. Nala is vibrant and provided the gentleness and firmness of the character. What really stole the show is SCAR. His delivery is both sinister and classy. The accent is perfect and each word is delivered with pure evil .

Directed by Romie John Delariarte, The Lion King is another successful production from Iloilo's prized artists, The Iloilo Prima Galaw. This indeed show that even in our local setting we can make entertainment that could compete on other plays in Manila. I can't wait for IPG's next production. KUDOS!


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