The Lion King (Fri 28 Jun – Sat 28 Sep)
Last night, I saw one of Disney’s most-loved musicals brought to life on stage, and when I say brought to life, I mean brought to life. It was everything you could have hoped ‘The Lion King’ to be, and more.
The opening to the show, was the best I have ever seen, being immediately drawn into what was going on. It started with a visual explosion on stage, whilst listening to the most amazing vocals and harmonies that made my hairs stand on end! The much-loved ‘Circle of Life’ was soon belted out, during which, the house-lights raised leaving the audience turning around to see what was going on – the cast, in their animal costumes, were dancing down the aisles. It was an amazing opening and I really am not doing it justice, you have to go and see the show to see just how jaw-dropping it was. It left the audience completely eager and on the edge of their seats to watch what was going to happen next.
The architecture of the costumes were works of art, each and every outfit was so well thought-out and you could definitely tell how much hard work was put into the planning of them. The thing I loved most, was that the masks were raised above the actors’ heads, meaning you could still see their expressions and know where each voice was coming from. It was so clever how they managed to capture the identifying movements through the use of puppets and models of the animals.
The costumes for the gazelles were brilliant, not only were dancers portraying the movements of the animal, but they had models of the gazelles attached to them which reflected of the dancers movements as they leapt gracefully on stage (see below).
One of the things that was different in this musical, which I had never seen done in other musicals before but I really loved, was in the balconies on each side of the theatre, you could actually see people playing the african drums and percussion; this made the show feel much more authentic and real. The music in the whole show was fantastic and the musical director Jon Ranger deserves a vast amount credit for making the show as big a hit as it is.
The set was really effective in portraying the scene where the wilder beasts are chasing Simba and it was genius who this was achieved. A lot of the set was also people, whether they were meant to look like rocks or grass, I really loved that touch.
Onto the characters: young Nala and young Simba were played by Donica Elliston and Joshua Cameron who were the two cutest kids with so much sass! I thought they were amazing, especially for their age and played their roles so well – they were definitely made to be on stage! Adult Simba was played by Nicholas Nkuna and Nala played by Carole Stennett were all-round incredible. They both put so much emotion into their performances and their singing was flawless. I really think they gave the characters of Nala and Simba justice!
Rafiki definitely had the most effortless and unique voice out of everyone and I loved the character she played. Gugwana Dlamini who played the part, is definitely a very talented actress. However, it has to be said, the most fun characters were Zazu (Meilyr Sion), Timon (played by John Hasler) and Pumbaa (played by Mark Roper). They were hilarious and put so much energy into their roles. What made this even better is that you could tell they were really enjoying themselves. Zazu was everyone’s favourite talented, fun-loving guardian. The line dancing of Timon and Pumbaa was genuinely hysterical and I fell about laughing; this being a complete contrast of emotion to – the euphoria of the opening scene, later sorrow at various ‘tragedies’ and anger towards the show baddy, Uncle Scar (Stephen Carlile). Scar’s make up, posture and facial expressions truly conveyed a sinister character, we all rejoiced at his defeat.
Disney’s award-winning musical of course had a standing ovation, rightly so, as the atmosphere was just incredible, as was the acting, singing, dancing, costumes, set… the list could go on and on. I’ve never wanted to recommend a show as much as I recommend this one, out of every show I have ever seen in my life, this is by far my favourite. The passion, energy and effort that went into the show was out of this world. The show was a full emersion experience where sound, song and sight came together perfectly. It had everything a show should have and way way more, I liked the film but I adored it on stage.
For more information and to book tickets for the show click here.
Some of these photos shown were taken by me, to see more click here.
I am a blogger and member of Birmingham Hippodrome’s First Night Scheme, offering £5 tickets to 16-21 year olds – CLICK HERE to join the scheme for free.