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The Lion King @ Segerstrom Center of the Arts – Review

Photo credit: Matthew Murphy

Written by Patrick Chavis

The Lion King musical is playing now at the Segerstrom Center of Art in Costa Mesa from February 1 to 25, 2024.

Using information from www.broadwayleague.com, The Lion King (the musical) is the highest-grossing musical of all time at the moment, with only Wicked, a musical reimagining of The Wizard of Oz even coming close.


The Lion King (the musical) premiered in 1997. Since its release, this retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet with a lion pride set in Africa has mesmerized the world, not only with its interesting take on the classic but also with added African imagery and culture.

The inventive costumes bring out a wonderful theatricality and allow the actors to emote on stage. For many people, it was their first time seeing anything like that. By doing so, it successfully differentiated itself from the successful animated film it was adapted from and came out three years earlier.


This musical boasts all of the  songs from the movie and adds new, original material, which are welcome additions. Elton John and Tim Rice’s music and lyrics are excellent and memorable. The music grabs at the heartstrings. No matter how much time has passed, like a happy memory, it’s hard to forget.

My favorite additions were “Shadowland,” sung by Nala, Rafiki, and the ensemble, and one of the last songs of the show, “He Lives in You (Reprise)”. The latter is a powerful tune about Simba remembering his father, Mufasa.

Unlike the more recent, live-action film version of The Lion King, the musical keeps what people loved about the animated movie, adds some good extras, and tells the story at a brisk pace for kids with shorter attendance spans. No surprise, it’s done well.

Segerstrom’s production does not disappoint, delivering on the beautiful choreography, visual effects, and lovely percussion work added on both sides of the stage that accompanies the pit orchestra led by conductor Karl Shymanovitz.

The musical’s whimsical use of breaking the fourth wall helps keep the show fresh after multiple viewings.


Peter Hargrave is a scene stealer in the role of Scar.

Mukelisiwe Goba plays Rafiki, and her vocals are vibrant and full of life.

The Lion King still packs a punch after all these years.

8.5 Overall
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Set & Design8.7
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Great Show! OCR Recommended!

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