The Lion King: A musical extravaganza

By Laurie Scarborough

As a last horruh, I spent my last night in Perth in the place that feels like home in a foreign land: the theatre. And homey it surely was, with The Lion King, taking us firmly back to the motherland: Africa.

The music is of course taken from the Disney movie with familiar tracks by Elton John and Tim Rice, but there was also new original music by South African composer Lebo M, movie composer giant Hans Zimmer, Mark Mancina, Ray Rifkin, Julie Taymor, and Robert Elhai, making the score full and definitively African.

The music really was the highlight of the show for me. I had listened to the soundtrack in preparation for the show so I knew what to expect but hearing it live was something else entirely. The orchestra and full choral harmonies gave me goosebumps several times during the show.

The costumes and puppetry were something I’ve never seen before. Reminiscent in some ways to the grand-scale puppets used in War Horse, every cast member was costumed with an animal mask and co-ordinated puppets, from springbok to zebras, elephants and rhinos, giraffe, and of course, lions.

The one down side of the show was the young Simba, who was played by an enthusiastic child. He unfortunately didn’t move very well and he came off as a bit irritating. That excused, the show was still fantastic.

My favourite moments were the big chorus numbers, such as ‘The Circle of Life’  from the original movie, as well as ‘They Live in You’ and its reprise, and ‘Shadowlands’ which are exclusive to the stage musical.

This is definitely a show not to miss: a feast for the eyes and ears, and an outing for the whole family.

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