DEEP IN THE JUNGLE, Lifeline Theatre. In this show based on the Dan Yaccarino kids' book, a lion lords it over the other animals in the jungle: if they don't do what he says, he eats them. But after joining the circus in search of fame, he learns a valuable lesson about bullying.
James E. Grote's energetic stage adaptation and George Howe's music and lyrics give this high-spirited 50-minute musical momentum. The show's focal point is Ty Perry's pampered Lion, a tantrum-prone bully with a great set of pipes. The ensemble is enthusiastic in a variety of song and (awkwardly choreographed) dance numbers. Keith Eric Davis really sells the tune "Show Business," though he should sing louder, and Erin Thomas and Nancy Jane Nelson's duet aptly moves Lion along to the moral of the story.
Under Shole Milos's direction, the actors are sloppy with the play's illusions near the end, however. Lion's escape from the circus is terribly anticlimactic, and if the animals can get free simply by stepping clear of the net holding them, why do they need Lion's help? Still, audience participation for the kids, jokes for the adults, and smart lessons on greed, pride, and friendship make this an enjoyable family show.