The Lion King Review - ***** 5 star
Based on the 1994 animated film, the stage show has become the highest-grossing musical in history. Instantly the animals are highlighted and grab our attention with towering giraffes to springing antelopes, strutting zebras and a massive stomping elephant sweeping through the aisles towards the stage, the opening scene of Disney’s The Lion King is perhaps the most iconic of musical beginnings
This version of The Lion King – directed by Julie Taymor. This is set in the Serengeti Plains and with an African rhythm firmly thumping at its heart, the story follows young lion Simba on his journey to become King of Pride Rock. Along the way he faces a number of obstacles – from his jealous, devious uncle Scar (played by Richard Hurst), to a trio of snarling hyenas and his own crippling self-doubt. Dashaun Young as Simba and Jean-Luc Guizone as his father Mufasa give, passionate performances, while Matthew Forbes is excellent in his portrayal of Zazu, Mufasa’s aide and reluctant babysitter for Simba.
The beauty and enchanting nature of the production lies not only in the talented cast but also in the use of mesmerising masks and puppets. There's an effortless harmony between performer and puppet, enhanced by the excellent choreography of Garth Fagan; the hunting dance of the lionesses is particularly graceful and hypnotic.
The iconic music and lyrics by Elton John and Tim Rice is excellent with classic tracks including Can you feel the love tonight and I Just Can’t Wait to Be King .
Overall, this is an engrossing production, with generous, festive-sized portions of heart and pride.