Review: The Lion King

May 15 – July 5

The Lion King

Liverpool Empire




Apparently, somebody at Disney reckoned it would be a terrible idea,

adapting the film for the stage. And it clearly must have taken a lot of doing, which is where Director Julie Taymor came in. But let us introduce her properly – as a Renaissance Woman; a regular Pandora. What talent, and what vision.

The plot, however, is a wee bit humdrum, revolving around Simba, Mufasa’s heir, who as a cub goes into voluntary exile when the throne is usurped by evil Uncle Scar. But with the help of childhood sweetheart, Nala, and comedy duo, Timon and Pumbaa, he eventually regains the crown. I say eventually; in fact, matters are resolved so speedily, it generates very little tension.

The show’s the thing you see, and a musical is many things. Here, every single stop has been pulled out, and then some, to produce a truly magnificent spectacle, from setting to songs, with the cast to match. Oodles of humour, from the above mentioned, who come over like a Noo Joysey double act: the Meerkat and the Warthog (John Hasler and Lee Ormsby). Then you have the ebullient Rafiki (Gugwana Diamini), plus bird brained twosome with Meilyr Sion as the irrepressible Zazu. Stephen Carlile in many ways is as comical though no mistaking he is the villain of the piece, with his hyena henchmen – out of all the fantastic costumes, theirs could be the most amazing.

But all the actors are excellent, and they give it their all, whether that be as human, flora or fauna. There is a most captivating dignity and elegance blended in with the general exuberance; for example, Cleveland Cathnott as the King and Ave Brennan as Nala. Young Nala is also beautifully portrayed by Donica Elliston, with a most striking performance from Solomon Gordon as young Simba.

Those who have seen the film, although they have a rough idea of what to expect, will still be astounded; for those who haven’t, it would be a shame to spoil the surprise with too detailed a description. You really do need to see for yourself – indeed, you must. The Lion King rules.


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