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the lion kingIf you claim to detest the classic tearjerker The Lion King, you’re either lying, or something has seriously addled your brain. The theatre production of the highest-grossing Disney film of all time is an unmissable and captivating experience, regardless of your age.

Like the movie, the stage production depicts the coming-of-age of King Mufasa’s son, Simba. Mutinous about no longer being heir, Mufasa’s cruel and charismatic brother, Scar, plans to seize the throne by any means necessary – and they are very violent means indeed.  A dramatic, action-packed movie such as The Lion King must be difficult to portray somewhat realistically on stage, but it has definitely been pulled off. From Simba’s birth and presentation to the kingdom, to the ultimate battle deciding the fate of Pride Rock, there is never a dull moment.

The ingeniously crafted costumes beautifully bring the characters to life. Each scene is swift and dynamic, and the stage is always emblazoned with stunning scenery. What makes the characters special, apart from the costumes, is that there are some twists in the plot that aren’t in the movie.  None of your favourite characters have been left out, though:  you’ll find wise and admirable Mufasa, loveable Timon and Pumbaa, and the barmy baboon, Rafiki, who is somehow even more bonkers than he is in the movie. The hilarious hyenas and zesty Zazu are given extra comic roles, too, extending the entertainment value of the show. The only disappointment is that Scar – everyone’s favourite villain – seems rather tame. Sadly, he is nowhere near as sinister and sarcastic as the original character, and his eccentricity stretches no further than a funny walk.

The production is truly loyal to its Disney roots, and all of your favourite musical masterpieces from the multi-award winning movie are superbly performed, including the soppy Can You Feel the Love Tonight?, the light-hearted Hakuna Matata, and the soulful Circle of Life. Heck, there have even been a couple of additional songs chucked in to make it more magical. The sensational music is dipped in African culture and the dance routines range from graceful to downright chaotic.

Simba’s heart-warming story is twice as thrilling, moving and dazzling when it’s unfolding before your very eyes. Not even the occasional screaming child, the tall people in the seats in front obstructing my view, or the rowdy woman shouting in the back row could puncture my excitement. Even the most miserable, anti-Disney cynics will enjoy this, I’m sure.

★★★★★

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