The Lion King ***** – Magnificent return for Disney’s outstanding five-star show

Magnificent - there’s no other word to describe it.

Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 7:53 pm

The Lion King has a wow factor that places it head, shoulders, and mane, above all other musicals.

From its stunning opening, which uses the whole of the theatre to such dazzling effect - to the finale, it brings a magical world to life on the stage.

It doesn’t matter how often you see it - this was my third time - it still thrills.

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The Lion King (Pic: Brinkoff and Mogenburg)

You soak in the vibrancy of the colours on a simple set that is brought to life with such ingenuity and imagination - and become wholly captivated in the story of Simba that you know so well.

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Disney’s circle of life story is beautifully told from start to finish, and is packed with many, many highlights.

From the opening soaring vocals of the wonderful Thandazile Soni - one of the stand out performers in a cast of the highest calibre - this show sweeps you along.

Disney's The Lion King (Pic: Deen van Meer)

With a 37-strong company and over 230 puppets you almost don’t know which part of the stage to focus on at times, such is the scale of the performance, but still, you drink it all in, spinning round every so often to catch a character in the circle, or the musicians in the royal boxes.

There are assured performances across the board from an outstanding ensemble.

Richard Hurst makes for a deliciously wicked Scar, Matthew Forbes is a master of puppetry and sharp wit as Zazu, and the roles of Simba and Nala, both as children and adults are perfectly cast for Steophenson Ardern-Sodje and Jaydon Salami, and Nokwanda Khuzwayo and Ruby Ruth Ama Yeboah respectively.

Mix in the daft humour of Alan McHale and Carl Sanderson as trusty sidekicks Timon and Pumbaa, and simply sit back and enjoy a show that works on every level for every age group.

There was a real buzz on press night - you could sense the excitement as a packed house took its seats.

The Lion King is as good as live theatre gets. In the hands of Disney, it is a joyous, life-affirming treat for the senses.