The roaring success of The Lion King is even evident on the streets outside the theatre. I felt a bit bewildered as I waited to collect my tickets, this production is epic in every sense of the word. The Lyceum itself is massive and takes up half of Covent Garden, and the interior of the theatre looks more like a rock concert stadium.
I have seen The Lion King once before when I was much younger; the show seemed largely unchanged. Although perhaps overly sentimental, this show is a masterpiece in every other respect, and it is no wonder it has done so well. The visuals are stunning with life-like animals and colourful moving sets evolving into the different animal habitats. I love the way the action surrounds the audience: pretend birds flying across the crowds on wire and percussionists sitting almost amongst us. The show definitely feels all inclusive.
The two children who play young Simba and young Nala must be having the time of their lives jumping about the Lyceum stage; I was certainly envious. I’m not sure which of the children performed on the night I went – I was too far away to recognise their faces from the selection in the programme. Timon (Nick Mercer) and Pumbaa (Keith Bookman) are great too and even more hilarious than I remembered, as the musical's two comedians. Brown Lindiwe Mkhize is a sensational Rafiki, filling the whole auditorium with her soulful voice.
The music in The Lion King is written by Elton John & Tim Rice and is relentlessly energetic throughout. I prefer the chorus numbers, they generate an electrifying sound with the huge cast and band that you can’t help but be affected by. Some of the solo songs are a little weak, I was a bit disappointed with Adult Nala’s (Narran McLean) voice and she seems to struggle a bit despite the amplification.
By the end I was exhausted from all the excitement, and it feels slightly bizarre to be unable to find a real criticism. I often overhear people chatting about The Lion King and their individual experiences of the show are all positive. It is a musical for everyone; it is happy but not kitsch and the message is one most can relate to. More than any other show I have seen, I think The Lion King is universally appealing.