The Lion King – The Lyceum Theatre, London

The Lion King has been playing at The Lyceum Theatre since 19th October 1999, and with the show appealing to many different people, it has continued to delight audiences for more than 15 years.

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After walking past the theatre for many years, I finally managed to see it on Wednesday 22nd June and was unfortunately left disappointed by this musical. I expected to be wowed and to be amazed, but left feeling underwhelmed and dissappointed. I am a fan of the original animated film that has inspired this stage production and there has been much that has been written into this story to make it suitable for the audience enjoyment.

As the front of house lights dimmed, I knew the opening number would be amazing, with Rafiki summoning the animals to Pride Rock. Regrettably the microphone for Rafiki wasn’t turned up enough, therefore the audience didn’t get the full effect of her spine tingling call to the animals. It was impossible to not get goosebumps to ‘The Circle of Life’ with the animals making there way through the audience, Director Julie Taymor has done an astounding job in creating this epic opening.

With an opening as great and punchy as this and setting the bar very high in the first few minutes of the production, the challenge becomes to keep the interest for the remainder of the performance. Personally for me, it didn’t and I fear the show has started to show signs of its age.

The microphone for Zazu failed during one scene, making it difficult for anybody to hear him, with other sound issues caused by the speakers being too ‘band heavy’. The majority of the singing came across quite weak as opposed to the band who were heard loud and clear. It would appear the sound department weren’t able to balance the music and microphones well many audience members struggled to her the shows louder musical numbers. Unfortunately, some of the singing was also flat.

The lighting and set for this show is not only clever but with the many set changes needed to tell the story of Simba, Nala and the heart wrenching story of Mufasa’s death, facilitated by Scar, the set helps to move the story along. The sheer size and complexity of some of the set amazed me.

I do feel the production lacks in places as I was left confused as to why the hyenas had American accents as well as Timon & Pumba, but Simba, Nala, Mufasa and Scar all had english accents. There was also an addition of a few lines of Let It Go from Frozen and some Irish dancing from Riverdance – it felt quite out of place and put there to get some extra laughs.

Musically Tim Rice and Elton John’s original songs provide a magical and warming tone for the evening, with songs such as I Just Can’t Wait To be King, Hakuna Matata, Can You Feel The Love Tonight? and The Circle of Life, these are the songs that make this show memorable.

More than fifteen years after it’s London opening the theatre was full on a Wednesday night and there was a range of both adults, teenagers and children throughout the theatre, all who appeared to enjoy the production.

Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy the majority of the show and felt it had got lost in parts and is now showing its age. That being said, it remains a favourite for theatre goers and is a great show to see for anybody who is new to the musical theatre world or wants to see their first theatre show.

If you’d like further details and to book tickets, please visit The Lion King website.

3.5-star

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