The Lion King
Rating: ★★★★
Venue: Lyceum Theatre, London
Cast: Thenjiwe Nofemele, Shaun Escoffery, Sadia McEwen, Gary Jordan, George Asprey, Emrys Zeph Adamah, Amber Koduah-Hutchison, Rhiane Drummond, Etian Almeida, Benn Welford, Mark Tatham, Owen Chaponda and Merryl Ansah 

Set against the majesty of the Serengeti Plains and to the evocative rhythms of Africa, Disney's multi-award winning musical will redefine your expectations of theatre. Brilliantly reimagined by acclaimed director Julie Taymor, Disney's beloved film has been transformed into a spectacular theatrical experience that explodes with glorious colours, stunning effects and enchanting music. 

It's a Tuesday October evening in one of the biggest theatres in London's West End. Despite it being midweek, and it being a drizzly, dull night, the Lyceum Theatre is buzzing with people. In fact, I couldn't spot an empty seat in the audience; a sight I'm not used to in the current climate of the theatre. It's a welcome sight to see the show thriving as much as it is; from the bustling queues for the plethora of merchandise and the excitement radiating as you enter the auditorium.

The Lion King is one of the most well known and best loved Disney films. However, if you're unfamiliar with the story, it follows our hero, Simba, as he enters the world as a lion cub and begins his journey of attaining his crown as rightful king of Pride Rock. From hyenas, to meerkats, to warthogs - Simba meets a wide selection of wildlife on his travels; some much friendlier than others...

I haven't seen The Lion King for a few years, and one of the major changes I noticed was Zazu's song, "The Morning Report" had been removed. While this seems to have been the case for a while, it was definitely strange to watch the show without that song...even if it was my least favourite of the musical!

The set designs by Richard Hudson are breath-taking. The sets transition with ease to different scenes and it captures the wonder of the Serengeti Plains beautifully. You truly feel as though you've been transported to the wilds of Africa. 

Along with the sets, the costume and puppet designs by Julie Taymor are what make this production as stunning as it is. This is particularly true during the opening scene, Circle of Life. Every audience member watched in wide-eyed awe as the assortment of wild animals took to the stage. The whole production is a visual feast for the senses.

Particular scenes that stood out to me were, of course, Circle of Life, but an unexpected one was the stampede scene. Although the scene is obviously a harrowing one, visually, it's stunning. The way they capture the chaos of a stampede on stage is almost mind-blowing.

Emrys Zeph Adamah and Amber Koduah-Hutchison as young Simba and Nala are exceptional young talent who command the stage well. However, for me, the stars of the show are the hyenas. They are truly brilliant, and their costume designs are a sight to behold. It goes without saying that Chow Down is my favourite song!

Other notable songs from the production were Shadowlands, sung by Merryl Ansah and Endless Night, sung by Owen Chaponda. The solos gave them both a chance to shine, and boy, did they take that opportunity. Shadowlands, in particular, was truly beautiful.

If you're looking for a nostalgic night out for all the family that'll leave you full of awe and wonder, then The Lion King is the show for you. Full of iconic music, as well as very impressive visuals.

You can catch The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre. Tickets available via the London Box Office here.

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