The Lion King is a musical production based on the Disney Animated movie of the same name, adapted by Irene Mecchi, Johnathon Roberts and Linda Woolverton.
As a child I, like many other people, grew up on the classic Disney movies, of which Lion King was most definitely one of my favourites. When I heard news that a stage version was coming out, I was determined to see it in the hope of reliving that golden age of my childhood all over again and it did not disappoint.
What you will remember most about The Lion King is the visual style. I know I was one of the people who thought whilst walking into the theatre ‘Just how DO you make a stage version of The Lion King?’ In a film where the cast are all animals, a musical translation seemed almost impossible. Thankfully, I was blown away. The various costume choices for the cast were highly detailed and added that integral animal quality to the characters. In particular, the Timon Puppet and the Giraffe outfits were outstanding and for a moment, I completely forgot I was watching people acting as animals and thought the animals themselves were on stage. The dancing was also well done so congratulations go to Gareth Fagan on his imaginative choreography.
There were strong performances all round, of which the most notable were Stephen Carlile, who gave an entertaining, if not over the top, portrayal of Scar and Cleveland Cathnott, who played the stoic Mufasa. Sadly, the musical half of the Lion King couldn’t match up to the visual style. Most of the songs were fairly average in their delivery, which was disappointing because I really do love all the Lion King’s songs. The only exceptions were the musical exclusive song ‘Shadowlands’, which had Carole Stennant as Nala showing off her powerful vocals, ‘He Lives in You’, performed by Gugwana Dlamini (Rafiki) and Nicholas Nkuna (Simba) and, of course, ‘The Circle Of Life’.
Most of the story of The Lion King is directly adapted from the movie (though it does feature a nice additional scene where we see Scar go a little schizophrenic in considering what he is doing wrong as king and ends with him madly demanding Nala be his queen), so if you enjoyed the original plot, you’re sure to like that side of the play.
Overall, The Lion King was an enjoyable experience and I strongly recommend it to any Disney or Musical fans in general. The Lion King is now showing at the Manchester Palace Theatre. If you wish to book your tickets now, please follow the link: http://www.manchestertheatres.com/lionking.htm