Disney’s The Lion King,
***** 5 Stars
“ Sublime, enchanting musical theatre at its very best!”
Last seen on the Playhouse stage over Christmas 2013, Disney’s award winning and acclaimed production of “The Lion King” is back, its lost none of its charm and ability to inspire wonder and continues to push the boundaries of musical theatre.
The stage adaptation first debuted across the pond in 1997 and the London west end production has just marked its 20th Anniversary and this new touring production is pulling massive audiences to the playhouse; this is due to unique place it holds in musical theatre.
Director Julie Taymor has blended, puppetry on a massive scale, human performances that runs the gamut of emotions and dressed it all in the most stunning costumes and set that’s yet to be topped. The lion king tells the story of Simba the lion cub learning to become king in the animal kingdom where many seek to become top of the tree is counter balanced with the tale of love, hope and trying to make your father proud.
The first ten minutes of the show are worth the ticket price alone. We are instantly transported the African Plaines with a stunning rendition of “Circle of Life” with a cavalcade of animals appearing from every corner of the theatre. With Thandazlie Soni setting her stall of talent out early as Rafiki she embodies the essence of the show delivering a powerhouse vocal and charming sense of character throughout the show.
The cast are universally excellent with all the principals bringing finely honed talent to there roles especially Dashaun Young as “Simba” who charms as does Josslynn Hlenti as “Nala”. Comedy is delivered in spades by Steve Beirnaert as “Timon”, Carl Sanderson as “Pumbaa”. Matthew Forbes is given the ability to adlib and break the fourth wall as “Zazu” who populates the show with references from the current world it’s wonderful.
Production wise Taymor has much to be lauded for, as well as directing she has designed the costumes, and many of the epic puppets from life sized Elephants and Giraffes to the delicate birds, its truly beautiful. Mixed with Richard Hudson’s epic set design which is dripping in the gorgeous lighting of Donald Holder.
The music of Sir Elton John and Sir Tim Rice is brought epically to life by a 12 strong orchestra, including 2 live percussionists perched in the boxes above the stage and the music remains as timely and timeless as ever.
Disney’s Lion King is truly a slice of the west end on stage at the playhouse, and its telling that two decades since its first appearance on stage it still continues to shine for its beauty, skill in story telling and the sense of child like wonderment it spreads across its audience.
This is the sublime, enchanting musical theatre at its very best and truly is a thrilling Christmas treat for old and young alike, so hurry along to the Playhouse and grab what few tickets remain! And celebrate the Circle of life! Hakuna Matata!
Disney’s The Lion King, Edinburgh Playhouse, Runs until Sunday 29th March 2020. For Tickets go to https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/disneys-the-lion-king/edinburgh-playhouse/
UPDATE: Since the publication of this review and due to over whelming demand The Lion King will now run until Saturday 18th April 2020!!