A behind the scenes intimate look into The Lion King was presented to Birmingham’s media in the intimacy of local venue The Crescent Theatre, with a presentation from Stephen Crocker from Disney Theatrical. An eye-opening talk that explains everything from The Lion King’s transition from screen to stage, costume design, scenery and the challenges that touring such a show contains.
He explains ‘in 1999 when we opened the show in London and people always asked us ‘when are you taking The Lion King on tour?’ back then it seemed like an impossible task. We never thought we’d be able to tour a show of such a large scale, but thanks to advances in technology and with a lot of creative thinking, we’ve managed to find a way to do such a thing.’ He speaks of the success of touring other Disney musicals and bringing them to Birmingham ‘we’ve bought Mary Poppins here, Beauty and the Best and more recently High School Musical so we know that there is an appetite for Disney musicals in Birmingham.’
He spoke with affection about Julie Taymor and her unique vision that created the costumes and masks, the detail and accuracy that went into every aspect of every costume is paramount. ‘She designed Mufasa’s mask to be rounded, wholesome and represented by ‘the circle of life’, Scar’s mask is more angular and disjointed, a representation of his personality’ Crocker explains.
The presentation was opened by Gugwana Dlamini as Rafiki, singing one of the most well known songs from the show, ‘The Circle of Life’. This rare opportunity to see the performers and costumes up close in such an intimate setting was a real pleasure. Other performers included Jonathan Andrew Hume as Simba and Ava Brennan as Nala who sang together in ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight?’ accompanied by the Birmingham Community Gospel Choir.
When the show arrives in Birmingham next year, the backstage area of the Hippodrome will be busy with a cast of over 50 actors, singers and dancers from 17 different countries, supported by a backstage team of over 100 people. This production is the biggest musical production ever to tour the UK. With 26 different types of animal, along with hundreds of masks and puppets and more than 700 elaborate costumes, 21 giant trucks are used to transport everything across the country. The three month stint will be one of the longest at the theatre in over 10 years.
The Lion King will play at Birmingham Hippodrome from June 29 – September 28 2013.