To celebrate my Father’s birthday, my family and I finally went to the show I had been waiting to see for as long as I could remember; one based on my favourite Disney films, whose songs I knew off by heart already, Disney’s Lion King Live.
As I arrived in Convent Gardens, I headed towards the Lyceum Theatre with the greatest expectations, yet also filled with a fear that the performance would never live up to my expectations. I took my seat on the highest floor, and the curtains started to rise.
The only on-stage activity was Rafiki – played by Nteliseng Nkhela – who began to sing the opening song, the circle of life.
Suddenly, the entire auditorium burst into life. People dressed as monkeys invaded the private boxes and started singing, people dressed in some of the most amazing animal costumes walked on stage.
One woman, who was dressed as the cheetah, caught my eye, for her head was connected to the cheetah’s head, her arms to the cheetah’s front legs and her legs were the cheetah’s hind legs. Her grace and cat-like demeanour was astonishing, and the animal came to life, no longer being a woman in costume, instead being a live Cheetah on stage.
My gaze was suddenly drawn to the stalls below me. Because of my height above the stage, I hadn’t noticed the herd of animals approaching through the chairs, making their way to the stage. One of these animals included an elephant, brought to life by four people in costume, making the most realistic pachyderm I had seen outside of a zoo, another was a rhino, controlled by two internal people, which also took my breath away with its fluidity and realism.
The stage then gave way, and a large spiral staircase came up through the floor, with Mufasa, Serabii and the new baby Simba at the summit. Rafiki then starts climbing the stairs and held up the baby lion, followed shortly by a blackout
Even after the first scene, I realised that my post-performance views on what it was going to be like, views that I thought were going to leave me disappointed, were far too low.
The rest of the performance carried on in the same way. Every time I thought the film left a benchmark that was too high to repeat, the performance would show me how wrong I was. By the end there was only one part that I thought was shadowed by the animated movie; the final battle between Scar and Simba. Other than this, I could never have imagined the performance to have been better.
Overall, the performance would have to get 5 stars, because I could never have comprehended the beauty of people being (not acting like) animals.
Mufasa – Shaun Escoffery
Sarabi – Gemma Knight Jones
Simba – Jonathan Andrew Hume
Scar – George Asprey
Zazu – Ashley Artus
Timon – Jamie Golding
Nala – Melina M’Poy
Pumbaa – Keith Bookman
Hyenas: Sarah Amankwah
pictures from 2.bp.blogspot.com and http://www.livetheatre.co