Multi-award winning Disney’s The Lion King, now on at Mayflower Theatre in Southampton, is a fantastic spectacle and a true delight for the senses.
Fans of the 1994 Disney classic can be reassured that the musical stays true to the original plot, but is brought to life with mesmerising puppets and choreography, vibrant costumes and staging, completed with new songs full of rich African beats, that can only be experienced at the theatre.
Having previously seen Disney’s The Lion King twice in the West End, it’s fair to say I fell in love with the show many years ago. I was bowled over by the spectacular costumes and how every inch of the auditorium is cleverly used during the performance.
But I have been desperate to take my two daughters, aged five and eight, as The Lion King is their favourite film. Let’s just say, the performance at Southampton’s Mayflower was no disappointment and the cast was well deserving of their standing ovation!
The show, which opens with a spectacular African sunrise set to Elton John and Tim Rice’s Academy Award-winning song, Circle of Life, soon saw the audience turning excitedly in their seats, as sensational puppets begin roaming through the stalls, including a magnificent elephant and rhino.
It’s clear to see from the start, why The Lion King won the Tony Award for Best Musical and is the highest grossing musical of all time!
The phenomenal show incorporates 232 puppets, from vibrant birds that fly overhead, to iconic characters like Zazu. Particularly impressive is the stampede scene, where the stage becomes full of wildebeest puppetry, cleverly featured in front of torrent after torrent of mechanical wildebeests.
The performance features exceptional vocals, particularly from Nosipho Nkonqa and Nokwanda Khuzwayo, who play Rafiki and Nala, and the children making their professional debut playing Simba and Nala, Josiah Araba-Coker and Serenna Hunte, gave faultless performances.
He Lives In You was the stand out performance of the night for me, an incredibly moving and beautiful original song co-written by Grammy award-winning composers, Lebo M and Mark Mancina, and record producer Jay Rifkin.
As you would expect, if you are familiar with the film, the characters Pumbaa and Timon bring some light relief and humour to the performance, singing family favourite Hakuna Matata, which featured alongside memorable Academy award-winning classic, Can You Feel The Love Tonight.
Disney’s The Lion King is a must see, feel good musical, loved by all generations and is showing at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton from now until October 15.
Tickets are priced from £20 and performances start at 7.30pm, with additional 2.30pm matinee performances on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The running time is two hours, 30 minutes, including a short interval. Limited availability remains.
Review by Kate Gee