You know when you hear so much about a show, that you think it can’t possibly live up to the hype? We went to watch The Lion King over the half-term holiday and it Blew. Me. Away.
Viagogo invited me and my 7-year-old to see multiple award-winning production The Lion King Musical as part of a special promotion and we were both bubbly with anticipation. Lions are my favourite animals and The Lion King is my favourite Disney movie, so I was longing to see this show when it first opened 15 years ago. Except back then Lion King tickets were like gold dust, the waiting list stretched for years and I decided that I would save it for a theatre trip with my future kids.
At the show last week, Ezra and I arrived just in time to catch the spectacular opening sequence.
Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba [Here comes a lion, Father]
Sithi uhm ingonyama [Oh yes, it’s a lion]
We sat rapt as the hit song ‘Circle of Life’ blared out and a parade of animals marched to the stage — majestic elephants, graceful giraffes, elegant lions, and radiant birds soaring over our heads. The costumes are just gorgeous and the life-like puppetry literally took my breath away.
For the next 2 hours (there’s a 15 minute interval) we were swept off to the Serengeti plains, following Simba the lion cub on his thorny journey to claim his destiny as king.
Just like the animated movie, the stage bursts with colour and life, with stunning art direction and a masterful recreation of scenes like the wildebeest stampede. I could hear children all around gasping when Muphasa fell (or was pushed) to his death — warning: if your kids haven’t seen the film (or even if they have), that murder scene is still pretty intense for little ones.
However the fun soon picks up again thanks to lively characters like Timon and Pumba, and Scar the aristocratic super baddie. A special mention goes to Rafiki (we saw Nteliseng Nkhela in the role), who has the funniest dance sequence (Ezra is still doing the Rafiki dance a week later) and a voice that totally blows the roof off the theatre.
What I loved is that the show stays faithful to the movie but they’ve beefed up the soundtrack and thrown in a few extra jokes for the live audience. The fight sequences – a combination of dance and martial arts – had Ezra leaning in for more. And of course the final chorus simply makes your heart swell.
I went in with muted expectations and The Lion King totally won me over. As Christmas looms, we usually rave about The Snowman, but The Lion King might just be an even more magical experience for young and old.
Viagogo’s Top 5 Theatre Productions
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viagogo’s top 5 list of must-see family shows this Christmas, based on demand, is:
1. Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream (UK Tour)
2. Diversity (UK Tour)
3. The Gruffalo (Lyric Theatre, London)
4. Peter Pan – the Never Ending Story (UK Tour)
5. The Lion King (Lyceum Theatre, London)
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The Lion King is at Lyceum Theatre, 21 Wellington Street, London, WC2E 7RQ