Review: ‘The Lion King’ @ Birmingham Hippodrome

Have you ever sat in a theatre and had to resist the temptation to sing along? I hadn’t before ‘The Lion King’ – it’s so much fun and so colourfully beautiful that it’s hard not to be swept up in that classic Disney magic!

The singing and dancing was the best I had ever experienced – the creativity and passion that was going into every step and every word was exhilarating, and it was difficult to stop smiling throughout the performance because every minute was so enjoyable. A particular favourite of mine was when the singers, animal puppets and various ephemera came through the aisles – a definite benefit to stalls seating over balcony!

My favourite actors had to be Scar (Stephen Carlile) and Rafiki (Gugwana Dlamini). Scar was deliciously evil, and his voice was one part evil to one part seductive – you could definitely see why he’d been able to paw his way to the top without being challenge until the bitter end. Rafiki was hilarious; a bundle of energy that dispersed all moments of tension aptly in order to remind us that good will always triumph over evil. The rest of the cast were fabulous as well, although I’ll be honest, I don’t think this is a production you necessarily go to see for the acting: you go for the experience that is created before your very eyes, the experience of sophisticated puppetry, intense native singing and dancing, and the reminder of the beautiful moral that underpins ‘The Lion King’.

The puppetry is definitely the highlight of this show; some (like Timon) is fairly basic and what we’d expect; others, like the shadow puppets, the antelope prancing, the spinning birds, are magnificent. It’s still technology that we can see functioning, but there’s something wonderful about the effect it creates, of man and (puppet!) beast coming together to create the great circle of life. It’s as charming as it is exquisite.

There are still places left on the tour’s visit to the Birmingham Hippodrome and I urge you to live through this musical; it’s the mighty king of musicals, and everyone should hear it roar proudly!


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