REVIEW: The Lion King – the African lion roars with pride in Birmingham
The Lion King musical roars and leaps onto the Birmingham stage for a scorching hot summer season.
Disney’s world famous The Lion King theatrical show is now playing at The Birmingham Hippodrome until 16 September.
When Disney released The Lion King animated film in 1994 the response was so rapturous – both critically and commercially – that it was adapted into a stage musical in 1997.
The show boasted music by Britain’s Elton John with lyrics by Tim Rice, and it scooped up six Tony Awards and made history when Julie Taymor became the first woman to win the award for Best Direction of a Musical.
The Lion King musical smashed box office records on Broadway, and is still playing in London’s West End since debuting there in 1999.
The legendary show is filled with classic hip-swaying songs such as Circle of Life, I Just Can’t Wait To Be King, Can You Feel the Love Tonight, and the catchy Hakuna Matata.
The story takes elements from Shakespeare’s Hamlet to showcase the rip-roaring adventures of African lion cub Simba after he is cast out of the pride by his scheming uncle Scar who plots to be king of the pride and lord of the savanna by removing Simba who is happens to be the rightful heir.
The themes of family, friendship, sacrifice, love and loyalty are always at the forefront of this joyful musical which showers the audience with an unforgettable experience at the theatre.
The show is epic with a huge cast and crew, and the art department uses the vast stage of The Birmingham Hippodrome to recreate the sights and vibrant colours of the Serengeti.
The show’s spectacular scenic design by Richard Hudson is a literal blaze of colour, golden hued and shining like the sun, full of the lustre and glow of a glorious African vista.
The lighting makes excellent use of shadows and silhouettes which ignites the imagination and stirs up emotions. This is the kind of musical where the stagecraft of the show is in tune with the source material and every scene comes alive with gusto and beguiling magic.
The skilful and magical use of masks and puppetry by Michael Curry and Julie Taymor are magical. The designs tap into African folk tales and add a beautiful and textured atmosphere to the musical.
Taymor also designed the colourful costumes and they compliment the look and feel of the show while the athletic – and at times acrobatic – choreography by Garth Fagan injects a primordial and elemental energy into the production.
The performers in this show are polished, professional, and perfectly cast in their roles, with everyone in sync whether they’re singing, dancing or taking part in an ensemble, they all deliver a special kind of theatrical magic.
The Lion King is a magnificent family show that roars with pride and passion.
VERDICT: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Disney’s The Lion King musical is running at The Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 16 September