Multicultural show for all nationalities

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IT’S no mean feat transporting a huge stage production with 50 performers from 17 different countries, a backstage team of over 100 and 700 elaborate costumes around the country.

But that’s just what is happening with the touring production of ‘The Lion King’ which is set to hit Edinburgh’s Playhouse Theatre in October for a 14-week run.

Rafiki in the Circle of Life

Rafiki in the Circle of Life

And the challenges of meeting such demands have not been easy as Stephen Crocker, the Australian born director of creative services for Disney in the UK, told the Press.

“I look after all the stage productions in the UK, including ‘The Lion King’ and it’s a great job for someone as passionate about theatre as I am,” he said.

Currently playing to sell-out audiences in Dublin and about to head for Birmingham, before descending on Scotland’s capital, the mammoth production, which was four years in the making, has been wowing audiences in London for 13 years.

“A huge part of the success of The Lion King is the love of the film with all of its wonderful characters and music, and this has been expanded on in the magnificent stage production with its African themes, music, actors and the other aspects which make it so unique,” said Stephen.

Simba in The Lion King

Simba in The Lion King

“The vision of Julie Traymor, our director and designer, is truly brilliant and she has used masks and puppetry and other diverse methods of theatre to tell the story in a way that will transport audiences from the theatre to become part of the story with its animals, waterfalls and breathtaking landscapes.”

Stephen explained that when it was first announced that the production would be touring the UK every theatre in the country was desperate to have it, but the sheer size and complexity of it ruled many out.

“We are delighted that it is going to Edinburgh as it is one of the most vibrant and international cities in the world, with its wonderful Festival, and it will also be great to be there over the festive season too.

“There are lots of requirements for the production, which is unusual for a touring production, because lots of things happen out in the auditorium as well as on the stage, and the huge size of the Playhouse with all its winding corridors makes it ideal for the requirements.

“When we first started talking about where the show should play five years ago and visiting different theatres, people were trying to get us to shrink it down and have a dinky-sized version, but that was something we weren’t interested in as its largeness is something which makes it what it is.

“We thought we would bide our time until we could deliver an experience on a par with the best, like the West End and Broadway, and that’s what we have done, so every person who sees The Lion King can have the very best experience possible.”