Disney's legendary musical The Lion King arrived in Birmingham last week. With an almighty display of unique costumes, fascinating props and grand sets, the Birmingham Hippodrome has the perfect musical for the summer season.
Opening the show with the iconic "Circle of Life", penned by Elton John and Tim Rice and performed by Gugwana Dlamini as Rafiki, is perhaps one of the most moving opening scenes from any musical to grace the Hippodrome stage. Complete with elephants and birds in the auditorium, Pride Rock is filled with the incomparable creativity of Julie Taymor whose costume, mask and puppet designs are second to none.
We're quickly introduced to Mufasa (Cleveland Cathnoff), the king of the lions, who is on a journey to teach his young son Simba (Joshua Cameron) the way of life as one day he will become king. Simba is young and adventurous and, along with friend Nala (Donica Elliston) is easily persuaded by his uncle Scar (Stephen Carlile) to go against the wishes of his father as without Simba, Scar would become king. Simba ultimately encounters a tragic event that leads to a family death.
Meilyr Sion as Mufasa's right hand bird, Zuzu, is a welcome element of comedy that is consistent throughout the musical.
Just before the end of Act One, Simba meets Timone (John Hasler) and Pumbaa (Mark Roper) who are a terrifically funny duo and introduce Simba to "Hakuna Matata"; their role becomes pivotal in turning Simba into the grown lion he is to become.
During Act Two, Simba (Nicholas Nkuna) and Nala (Carole Stennett) are adults, allowing Nala in particular to shine during her emotional performance of "Shadowland". Their relationship develops as grown lions and the Academy award-winning "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" is a true reflection on how far they have developed from young and naive cubs.
The Lion King features some of Disney's most iconic characters and music, this stage show invites all of those elements to be shown to a whole new audience that does the movie proud. The show is one of the most complicated, yet inspiring and striking in its staging, to ever visit Birmingham.
Its three month residency in the city provides the perfect opportunity to finally get to see this iconic show in your hometown!
Playing at Birmingham Hippodrome until September 28.