Theatre Reviews

5 Reasons To See ‘The Lion King’

21/03/2023, Sunderland Empire

As the audience excitedly filled the auditorium last night an announcement was made, “Welcome to Sunderland Empire, the West End of the North East”. This statement couldn’t have felt more true at the press night of one of the most iconic musicals, ‘The Lion King’. Returning to the North East 9 years since it last toured here (which was our first show together!), there was an audible buzz in the air prior to the show starting.

Photo credit: Disney

This classic story is told with extravagant costumes and puppetry, following the story of Simba, the lion cub who is heir to the throne of Pride Rock. Full of all the familiar songs and set pieces from the 1994 animated film it is based on, this show has a legacy it fulfils. Read on for our 5 reasons to see ‘The Lion King’!

1. The costumes

As soon as the curtain comes up and the opening bars of ‘The Circle Of Life’ are performed, it’s quite obvious that the costumes are going to blow your mind. Boasting over 350 individual costumes worn throughout the performance, it really is a spectacle from start to finish and you find yourself in awe at the intricacies and details of how some of the mechanisms and movements work. The opening number highlights this all in the most breathtaking way and this impact lasts throughout the entire show.

Photo credit: Disney

2. The choreography

To add another layer to the spectacle of the amazing costumes, the cast do a fantastic job of mimicking the animals movements that they are playing. From gazelle to giraffes, every species has an individual way of moving that is portrayed perfectly by the actors. Beyond this, some set pieces are performed with high energy and intricate dance executed with absolute precision and class. There are some moments when the animals moments become more ‘human’ to represent the original animation, for example the iconic ‘goose-stepping’ of the hyenas in ‘Be Prepared’.

3. The puppetry

A large part of the way the story is told is through puppetry, with over 230 puppets using silhouettes and controlling aspects of the costumes to make the characters mouths move or heads lurch forwards to represent a change in mood. A highlight of the show is the character of hornbill royal aide, Zazu (Matthew Forbes). The working of the puppet is absolutely astounding with the acting and range of Forbes to accompany, it’s a real treat. The movement of Zazu as he flys around the characters is so lifelike, and the controlling of his eyes and beak to support the camp and sassy nature of the character creates a perfect comedic role.

Photo credit: Disney

4. The music, the songs!

The Lion King is a Disney film with a soundtrack loved by millions around the world. Every song from the film is brought to life in this show with over 40 instruments used in the orchestra. The added material complements these well-loved songs and the story too. Each number is a highlight in its own sense, the songs from the film depict scenes created in animation so well and the other numbers added into the show are excellent. (‘He Lives In You’ from the sequel film and added song ‘Endless Night’ being two fantastic additions).

5. It’s a real sensory experience

When you go to see The Lion King, it’s much more than watching a performance on stage by the way the cast interact with the audience and use the space in the auditorium. Beyond feeling like the cast are amongst you at times, the light from the backdrop illuminates the auditorium taking you to the African plains. The sheer power of the casts voices in the large group numbers is sure to give you goosebumps.

Photo credit: Disney

In summary, The Lion King is nothing short of a spectacle. Everything you experience when seeing the show is goosebump inducing and breathtaking. It’s an experience that will stay with you for years to come and it is no wonder that The Lion King has been going strong since 1999.

Click here for last remaining tickets!

By thestageycouple

A married couple sharing our love for Theatre, Film & Tv!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s