The Lion King: Julie Taymor's wondrously attractive production is not so much a response to the 1994 animated blockbuster as a clear improvement on it. The show is worth seeing for its first 10 minutes alone, never mind the felicitous stuff to come. In "Circle of Life," Taymor and company introduce us not simply to a bunch of animals -- lions, a baboon, gazelles, an elephant, some giraffes -- but to an entire theatrical worldview, combining rod puppetry, stilt-walking, masks and the humans behind it all. Taymor's production is beautiful yet mellow. It doesn't jerk you around the way the movie did.
-- Michael Phillips
Ends Sunday at the Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 468-1770.