The Lion OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Sara Kurlwich
  • The Lion
  • NY TIMES

  • DAILY NEWS

  • TM

  • HUFFPOST

  • ATW

Opening Night:
June 26, 2014
Closing:
July 13, 2014

Theater: MTC / 131 West 55th Street, New York, NY, 10019

Synopsis: 

A true story of love, loss, family loyalty, and the redemptive power of music. Following an award-winning run at the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, writer/performer Benjamin Scheuer (winner of the ASCAP Cole Porter Award for songwriting) shares his gripping coming-of-age tale. Directed by Sean Daniels, whose work has been seen at The Kennedy Center and Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, The Lion is a candid, poignant, and charming new solo musical from a next-generation troubadour.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF The Lion

    Songs and Scars From Father to Son
    Benjamin Scheuer Tells His Story in ‘The Lion’

    Charles Isherwood

    June 27, 2014: Benjamin Scheuer, the writer and star of The Lion, has a pretty mane of blond hair and a wide, friendly smile that’s cuter than a dozen kitty videos. When he bounds onstage to open the show, guitar in hand and dressed in a natty suit with the tie slightly askew, he looks as if he’s just stepped off a fashion runway, or leapt to life from off an Abercrombie & Fitch shopping bag (albeit fully clothed). But underneath the boy-band good looks and the beaming enthusiasm lurk some pretty dark things, as we learn during this 70-minute autobiography in song and story. In The Lion, which opened on Thursday night at City Center in a Manhattan Theater Club production directed by Sean Daniels, Mr. Scheuer reflects on his turbulent life’s journey, and in particular his complicated relationship with his father, who inspired Mr. Scheuer’s love of music but also left him more troubling legacies.

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  • NEW YORK DAILY NEWS REVIEW OF The Lion

    The Lion: Theater review

    Joe Dziemianowicz

    June 26, 2014: Personal losses pile up in the musical memoir The Lion, but creator and star Benjamin Scheuer makes the one-man show an irresistible winner. A cherished childhood memory gets things started: “My father has an old guitar and he plays me folk songs,” sings Scheuer, who boasts a warm clear voice and dreamboat looks. “He goes to the basement and builds me a cookie-tin banjo.” That homemade toy leads to a big-boy’s guitar and a deep passion for making music, which, he says, is “my greatest source of joy.” Scheuer’s co-stars are a half-dozen guitars and he plucks and strums the heck out of them. Jubilation subsides when his dad dies suddenly in 1996, leaving 13-year-old Ben and his two brothers and mother reeling. It’s first of a number of rough realities, including a sweet love story that sours and a nearly fatal cancer battle that steals this lion’s great mane of hair, virility and ability to make music.  

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  • THEATERMANIA REVIEW OF The Lion

    The Lion Review

    David Gordon

    June 26, 2014: Benjamin Scheuer walks into the room in a navy-blue suit through an old wooden door, an acoustic guitar slung around his neck. The room sort of looks like a recording studio: gold walls graying with age, floorboards ready to give, microphones missing their windscreens. Ben, as he introduces himself, is an affable chap in his early thirties with a big smile on his face. For the next 70 minutes, he presents to us The Lion, a story told through song about perseverance in the face of the darkest odds — and about the power music has to save one's soul. Ben isn't a person the theater community knows too well, though he does have a collection of accolades to his name, including 2013's ASCAP Foundation Cole Porter Award for songwriting, and a pair of albums with his band, Escapist Papers. This unfamiliarity works in his favor as he looks back upon his life within the confines of Manhattan Theatre Club's Studio at Stage II.

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  • HUFFINGTON POST REVIEW OF The Lion

    Theater: The Lion Roars (With Pride)

    Michael Giltz

    June 27, 2014: This one-man musical written by and starring Benjamin Scheuer is sweet, unassuming, very tuneful and very good. But you don't want to overpraise it. It's a charmer people will enjoy the most if they let it sneak up on them. It's worth seeing, I've casually told some friends, definitely the best new musical I've seen so far this year. Then they'll go, start to smile when they realize it's going to be good and then relax into the rare pleasure of seeing a show that is unexpectedly very good indeed. The staging is simplicity itself. Scheuer comes out looking casually snazzy in a blue suit, walking onto the intimate stage of The Studio at Stage II, which is filled with various guitars, mostly acoustic. He starts to play the song you can hear a portion of in the video below and music fans will immediately relax: Scheuer is a confident guitarist and a canny songwriter who makes songs as casual as conversation but as well-crafted as can be.

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  • AMERICAN THEATER WEB REVIEW OF The Lion

    The Lion - A Moving Musical Memoir

    Andy Propst

    June 27, 2014: There's a lot that's really pretty about Benjamin Scheuer's new one-man musical, The Lion, which opened last night at City Center (Stage II) in a Manhattan Theatre Club production. First and foremost, there are the performer's tunes themselves, a grand mix of folk and folk/rock that please the ear and are outfitted with delightful and thoughtful lyrics. Also, there's the physical production. Neil Patel has created an environment that's a cross between a hip club and a vaguely well-lived in artist's apartment with a pressed-copper ceiling and an arced, mottled brown wall that backs the stage. Lighting designer Ben Stanton bathes this environment---outfitted with a trio of chairs and a variety of guitars---with both rich colors and sharp-angled white lights to marvelous effect.

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