The Lion King (4 stars)

This article is from 2013

The Lion King

Costume and puppet designs steal the show in Julie Taymor's stage production of the Disney film

The Lion King has played to audiences the world over, with different casts bringing the Disney film to life each time. Everywhere it goes, the show is a hit, regardless of who dresses up as Simba, Scar or Pumbaa. And why? Because unusually for a stage musical, the star of The Lion King is not the performers.

Julie Taymor’s costume and puppet designs steal the show from the first note to the last. Whether it’s the giant elephant sauntering through the stalls during the opening parade, the oh-so-clever antelope ‘bicycle’ or the simple but hugely effective wildebeest stampede, Taymor’s vision is a triumph of theatrical ingenuity. Which is why a show which could easily have been deemed a kiddie musical is regularly visited by adults without a child in sight. The Lion King is for everybody – lovers of big budget family entertainment, theatre connoisseurs and everyone in-between.

To be fair, the music gives Taymor a run for her money. Songs such as ‘Circle of Life’, ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight’ and ‘He Lives in You’, can leave the eyes feeling a little moist, and who isn’t cheered up by a quick blast of ‘Hakuna Matata’? In this particular production, there are also some fine performances – in particular from Ava Brennan as Nala, comic duo John Hasler and Lee Ormsby (aka Timon and Pumbaa) and the endlessly likeable Gugwana Dlamini as booty-shaking monkey, Rafiki.

But it is when everybody comes together as an ensemble that The Lion King really flies. The antelope canter, the lionesses leap, the birds flutter and an entire animal kingdom bursts in full voice before our eyes.

Edinburgh Playhouse, until Sat 18 Jan.

Disney presents THE LION KING

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the information displayed here is accurate, always check with the venue before attending (especially during the Covid-19 pandemic).

The Lion King

  • Directed by: Julie Taymor
  • Written by: Roger Allers, Elton John (music), Tim Rice (lyrics), Mark Mancina (music & lyrics), Lebo M (music & lyrics), Hans Zimmer (music & lyrics), Julie Taymor (lyrics), Irene Mecchi

Julie Taymor's puppet-powered stage version of Disney's spectacular tale of a dead king and an errant son is a feast of exuberant theatre for the whole family, with show-stopping visual effects, gripping drama and plenty of laughs. It reinvents the film for a whole new audience.

Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

Thu 8 Sep 2022

£20 / 023 8071 1811

Fri 9 Sep 2022

£20 / 023 8071 1811

Sat 10 Sep 2022

£20 / 023 8071 1811

…and 13 more dates until 25 Sep 2022

Palace Theatre, Manchester

Thu 22 Oct

£20–£112.50 / 0844 847 2275

Fri 23 Oct

£20–£112.50 / 0844 847 2275

Sat 24 Oct

£20–£112.50 / 0844 847 2275

…and 83 more dates until 30 Jan 2021

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