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From Local Stages to Broadway: Celebrating the Transformative Magic of Live Theater

This past week, AMA was kindly invited to “The Name Jar,” a play running until April 14, 2024, at the Stages Theatre Company, and the “Lion King” at the Orpheum. The “The Name Jar,” performance was enjoyable and easy to follow, with great use of sound effects. The details in the story, acting, costumes, and props were impressive, adding authenticity to the experience. The play resonated with audiences of all ages, offering a relevant lesson about navigating diverse cultures. Overall, it was a memorable and impactful experience.

The play’s thoughtful design made it accessible to everyone, ensuring that both younger and older audience members could fully engage with the story. In detail, the portrayal of characters with Korean accents and attire enhanced the audience’s immersion and connection to the narrative. Additionally, the universal themes of identity and acceptance left a lasting impression on attendees, sparking meaningful conversations that lasted long after the curtain fell.

In stark contrast, the national tour of “The Lion King” delivers a theatrical extravaganza of epic proportions that captivates audiences with its sheer spectacle and grandeur. From the moment the curtain rises, theatergoers are transported to the majestic plains of Africa, where they are enveloped in a breathtaking visual and auditory feast. The production values are nothing short of extraordinary, with stunning costumes, innovative puppetry, and elaborate set designs that bring the beloved story to life in vivid detail.

The differing production values between “Name Jar” and “The Lion King” stem from their distinct artistic visions and resources available. While “Name Jar” may have more modest production values due to its local scale and community-based nature, it compensates with authenticity and a deeply personal connection to its audience. While “The Lion King” may lack the intimate charm of a local production, its sheer scale and artistry leave an indelible impression, reminding audiences of the transformative power of live theater.

Both productions succeed in moving audiences in ways that only LIVE THEATER can achieve. Whether through the intimate storytelling of “Name Jar” or the grand spectacle of “The Lion King,” live theater has the remarkable ability to evoke genuine emotions and create moments of shared experience that resonate deeply with viewers. The immediacy of live performance, the energy of the performers, and the tangible presence of the audience all contribute to a sense of connection and immersion that cannot be replicated through any other medium. In the end, it is this authenticity and emotional impact that leave a lasting impression on audiences, regardless of the scale or production values of the theatrical experience.

Please join these magic moments and check out below productions:

Now through Apr 14 at

Now through April 28 at
Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis, MN

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Review of the Lion King

by Diana Lu

Based on Disney’s The Lion King movie, the musical brings the beloved animal cast to the stage for a life-like production, full of singing and dancing, including some stage-only numbers. The Lion King musical has been extensively praised for its use of costumes and puppetry to transform actors into the movie’s cartoon animal characters, ranging from the story’s protagonist lions to giraffes in the pridelands. The off-Broadway performance certainly did not disappoint in that regard, bringing with it some beautiful lion masks and antelope masks, bird puppets that could swing and glide, gazelle puppets that leapt across the stage, and actors on stilts. The sets were equally incredible, using a mix of costuming and more traditionally-built set pieces to create an immersive African landscape in a theater in frigid Minnesota.

Of course, the cast that brought this show to life cannot go unmentioned. The child actors who played young Simba and Nala were suitably adorable and made for a convincing pair of childhood friends. Hopefully these young talents will continue their theater careers! The adult versions of Simba and Nala, Darian Sanders and Khalifa White respectively, commanded a powerful stage presence and boasted an intense chemistry that sold the lions’ romantic reunion without a doubt. And Miss Nala’s singing voice, whew! Suffice to say she was ready to blow the audience out of our seats. The colorful cast of supporting characters were equally engaging, with Rafiki, Zazu, Timon, Pumbaa, and the hyenas earning no shortage of guffaws from the audience, while I’m sure Mufasa must have drawn a few tears. Peter Hargrave as Scar nailed his role as the conniving villain. Finally, the ensemble cast cannot be commended enough for a job that cannot have been easy, between the puppetry, the masks, the costuming, and the sheer physical efforts of singing, dancing, and moving around to bring this show together.

The Lion King musical is worth a watch under any circumstances, and this off-Broadway production brings it conveniently back to our doorstep in the Twin Cities. This spectacular rendition, with its unique cast and crew, is definitely a visit. Tickets are on sale now, and the Orpheum will host a sensory-friendly production on April 20, in addition to its regular run from now through April 28. If you loved the Disney movie, the musical is an enchanting and impressive adaptation that won’t fail to impress.


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