‘The Lion King’ Opens at the Benedum; Nakama Offers Steak, Sushi, and Showmanship (Wed., 9/4/19)

Buyl Zama is Rafiki, the shamanic mandrill, in ‘The Lion King’ at Benedum Center. Note the gazelles in motion behind her. (photo: Deen van Meer, © Disney)

1) Authoritarian rule is to be dreaded, except in The Lion King. All creatures rejoice when young Simba, a benevolent though carnivorous monarch, defeats a coup to reclaim his place at the top of the food chain. The 1994 Disney animated movie won the hearts of millions. The Broadway musical, stunningly adapted under the direction of Julie Taymor, has played continuously in New York since 1997. Now the latest touring production of The Lion King visits Pittsburgh. It retains all the features that won multiple Tony Awards (including Best Musical) for the Broadway original. Actors use Taymor’s costumes and puppets to vividly re-create a story in which no characters are humans. The musical has additional scenes and many songs beyond those in the animated film, as composers such as Lebo M of South Africa expanded on the movie’s Elton John-Tim Rice score. With the recent release of the CGI movie remake, Lion King aficionados can do a triple dip, comparing both screen versions and the musical. Just be advised that the live stage show is a hot ticket. Reserve promptly. Performances run through September 29. Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District. (MV)

2) Nakama Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar is one of the most acclaimed restaurants in Pittsburgh, having amassed more than two dozen “Best of” awards from local publications and nearly 50 people’s choice awards—all since they opened their doors in 2003. The hibachi restaurant owes the accolades to its unique combination of high-quality ingredients, memorable flavors, and the impeccable showmanship of the chefs. Each has his or her own repertoire of tricks, so the experience is different every time. The grills seat up to 12, so you can go with a group or go it alone and make new friends. The front half of the restaurant is a great hangout spot with a full-service bar, TV screens tuned to the night’s sports action, and a sushi bar that can make you any of several dozen traditional or house specialty rolls. 1611 E. Carson St., South Side. There is also a Nakama in the North Hills. (CM)

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Rick Handler

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