Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.

In each culture allegories about youth's initiations into manhood have added a fantastical richness to the folklore.

But few legends have been woven into the lively and humorous musical that Joseph A. Walker has created in "The Lion Is a Soul Brother." The work by Walker, the author of the award-winning drama "The River Niger," opened at Howard University's Ira Aldridge Theater Wednesday night.

Around the story of Soold, the son of an African village chief, Walker has built a commentary on society, particularly nuclear warfare, the ICA and even karate, owing its humorous touch ot urban street attitudes. Instead of slaying the lion, the proof of Soold's manhood, he befriends the lion and brings him home.

Certainly the play is a tour de force for Walker, who not only wrote the dialogue but also wrote the lyrics, did the choreography, directed the two-hour production and appears as the lion. Capt. Curious Cat, as the lion is called, sashays like an aging corner dude and spouts his philosophy like a honey-coated disc jockey.

Even though "Lion" is set in an African village and the costumes are faithful to an African expression, it's the Afro-American derivatives of that diverse continent that give the story its pace and electricity. It should be called hip to match its contemporary flavor because its song, sociology and spirit owe more to the disco world than to traditional African mythology. "Lion" even gets into the fantasies of extraterrestrial creatures.

The cast, all members of Walker's theater group, the Demi-Gods, performed the culturally tangled material with ease and smooth energy. Also to "Lions'" success was Walker's wife, Dorothy Dinroe-Walker, who composed and arranged the music. The musical will be at Howard through July 31 on a Wednesday-through-Sunday schedule.