One Word: SPECTACULAR
This West End powerhouse is now entering its seventeenth year at the Lyceum Theatre and is still playing to sell-out audiences every night. And it’s easy to see why!
THE LION KING dazzles right from the start with spellbinding opening number ‘The Circle of Life’. An array of animals appear from all around the auditorium, with performers in elaborate costumes expertly manoeuvring puppets, their body movements evoking their respective animals, their voices and rhythms exuding the very heart of Africa.
The well known characters are perfectly cast; Shaun Escoffery is soulful and majestic as Mufasa, the young Simba and Nala (Geoffrey Berrisford and Indie Gjesdal) are two sparky little balls of energy, and George Asprey’s silkily languid villain Scar is deliciously evil. The three hyenas (Nadine Higgin, Curtis Angus understudy and Mduduzi Mkhethi understudy) provide a welcome comedy element (albeit with an air of menace) in act one, and in act two the laughs come thick and fast thanks to the lovable Timon and Pumbaa (Mark McGee understudy and Keith Bookman), a superb double act who have palpable chemistry and are simply a joy to watch.
Of course there is plenty of emotion alongside the laughter in this story; the audience are taken on a real journey with Simba – played with just the right balance of vulnerability and hot-headedness by Jonathan Andrew Hume. We are invested in his character from the beginning – we feel genuine grief at the loss of Simba’s father, and from then on are rooting for him every step of the way, through his coming of age, his reunion with Nala and ultimately his brave decision to face his past and claim his true place as the rightful king.
The sparkling choreography by Garth Fagan constantly delivers – a particular highlight is the Lionesses’ Hunt, where the silken costumes and headdresses are added to the stealthy dance moves to great effect.
The heart of the piece is the character of Rafiki, the wise old baboon who teaches Simba his greatest lesson. Lindiwe Mkizhe Brown brings her to life with such wit, quirkiness and vitality that it genuinely feels like she’s from another world entirely – and her magnificent voice seems to rock the very foundations of the Lyceum Theatre.
THE LION KING is a true spectacle – its bright colours, enchanting music and heartwarming message make it an absolute must-see for all ages.
THE LION KING
Tuesday – Saturday 7:30pm
Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees 2:30pm