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

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

It's Hamlet … with lions! 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. The arrival of this touring production in Edinburgh makes…

Lyceum Theatre, London WC2E

Sat 18 Nov

Sold out / 0844 871 3000

Part of Family Arts Festival.

Sun 19 Nov

Sold out / 0844 871 3000

Part of Family Arts Festival.

Tue 21 Nov

Sold out / 0844 871 3000

Part of Family Arts Festival.

…and 137 more dates until 29 Apr 2018

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