Tuesday, May 22, 2012

'The Lion King' - something visually stunning

The Lion King... one of my favourite films of all time. That's right. Not only one of my favourite Disney films but one of my favourite films overall.

The Lion King at Lyceum Theatre, London
Performance: Wednesday 2nd May 2012 at 19:30
Seat: Rear left stalls, £42.50
Cast included: Andile Gumbi (Simba), Carole Stennett (Nala), Shaun Escoffery (Mufasa), George Asperey (Scar), Brown Lindiwe Mkhize (Rafiki), Stephen Matthews (Zazu), Jamie Golding (Timon, s/b), Keith Bookman (Pumbaa)

I won't go into explaining the plot because I am sure pretty much everybody knows what happens in The Lion King. Consequently, I am sure most of you can also imagine how difficult staging something like that is. The stage production does a great job of recreating the famous Disney film: the story line and even parts of the script have been kept the same with some added material to extend it to a full-length musical.

Rafiki, who didn't speak a lot of English (Source)
For those planning on seeing The Lion King: I strongly recommend getting Stalls seats if you can as the actors move around in the audience and it was interesting seeing some of the costumes close-up including a giant elephant which I literally could have touched when it passed (imagine the shock I felt when I turned around to see what everyone else was looking at and saw this huge thing at least twice as tall as me).
An enormous amount of creativity had been used with the costumes and the puppetry. Of course one cannot expect it to be completely realistic: you do remain aware of the fact that there are people jumping around the stage with two heads dressed as lions and others running back and forth with decorated sticks that represent birds.

Footage of the Original West End cast doing their thing: 

The Lion King I think is a show you go and see for the costumes and the amazing merchandise rather than the story line. The musical has become a part of London's street view by now; it has been playing in the West End continuously since 1999 so it obviously is something people want to go and see. These Disney musicals seem to do pretty well (think Beauty and the Beast for instance). Personally I would love to see The Little Mermaid come over. Sierra Boggess kind of should be Ariel for that... not trying to be greedy or anything... 

Wallace Smith and Kissy Simmons in the
Broadway production (Source)
Anyway, back to The Lion King: had I not known the story from before, I may have ended up a little bit confused because some scenes were slightly abstract: well presented but abstract and arty (for instance I don't know if my 6 year-old half-sister who has seen the film maybe once would have quite understood the whole show). Even the visually challenging scenes from the film (especially the one where -SPOILER- Mufasa dies; that was one of my favourite scenes) had been brilliantly staged.
One of the most surreal things was hearing and seeing all the songs from the film (which is one of the very few films I have seen umpteen times) sung live. In a way it never dawned to me that a group of people have actually gone and recorded the songs for the film - I knew it but the realisation only hit me while watching the musical. 

Aren't those giraffes awesome! (Source)
This time the special mentions go to the little boy who played young Simba (you never find out which one of the children it is) who acted the part brilliantly as well as having a great singing voice, the ensemble members who played the giraffes and the guy who played Pumbaa because he sounded exactly like Pumbaa in the film - I couldn't believe it! 

I'm happy I went to see this one as it was definitely worth seeing once. I just had one question when leaving the auditorium and I cannot say I have figured it out yet: Why did Mufasa not have a tail?

1 comment:

  1. I've seen Lion King the Musical once - and it was amazing. Just as you say, it looked absolutely gorgeous.
    I just think the show as a whole has a bad balance in between the funny and the serious moments, as if it was afraid the kids in the audience will get bored if they don't have a joke every two minutes. Also, I had the misfortune of seeing it with a really rude audience, they just couldn't stop talking... Not exactly the musical's fault though!

    But anyway, I think I could see this again just for the amazing visuals!