The Lion King – London

12 Feb

As part of my birthday celebration, some friends and I decided to go watch The Lion King in London. My first and only experience of the stage adaptation of Disney’s classic was eleven years ago and my memories are vague yet colourful.The animated film has always had a place in my heart and bears familiarity that is comforting; like most of my generation it is the symbol – the root – of our childhood. I wanted to solidify these playful, childish memories and pay respects to a tale that has accompanied me this past 18 years. Nostalgia was what we were in search for; its power to move and provoke reflection – it’s beautiful.

Most of this post has been taken straight from the notes I had typed into my iPhone throughout the interval and after the final curtain; I did not want to lose or forget any of the thoughts and emotions that rushed through me. What follows are my thoughts and reactions to the show at the exact moment but also retrospective.

My icy fingers are wrapped around a foul tasting cup of tea in a desperate attempt to warm up; however the tea is made redundant as soon as I take my seat. I forget the wintry world outside the Lyceum Theatre as the hall becomes filled with a most delightful buzz. It is a lively atmosphere as numerous generations mutter of excitement and anxiety – sharing memories. Without a doubt The Lion King is a timeless classic as its messages are etched into our hearts. For some it is like being reunited with a long lost family member as the characters are just as familiar as the family members and friends sat beside us. There is also a sense of adventure as we stare hungrily at the curtains. Behind them is a world unlike our own – a fierce and fiery land full of danger; Africa is calling. Sounds of the jungle are being played – bird song and animal noises merged with percussion are mesmerising but the exotic mood is set and the message is clear. It is time to release your inner child, your inner lion, and escape.

The sun sets on London and with the curtain rises on Africa and The Pride Lands. The opening lines of ‘The Circle of Life‘ blasts from the powerful voice of Rafiki and tears begin to fill my eyes. It is a most overwhelming display of artistic talent – every person in the building is captivated, the children sat in front are at the edge of their seats ready to leap over the barrier and dance alongside the puppets. The puppetry is so magnificent and entirely out of this world that I forget that they are actually human beings on stilts in costume. The whole scene is completely fantastical. The iconic scene reaches its climax as Simba is lifted into the air and the audience erupts into an enthusiastic round of applause – hearts explode and tears flow. It is too beautiful.

By the shows end, I had shed countless tears; shaking and breathless.

Each song had its own personality. I found that the abstract imagery of ‘Can’t Wait to be King‘ was executed perfectly as it explored the colours of a child’s imagination whilst staying true to the film. I was also pleased that they included my favourite song from the second film. ‘He Lives in You‘. This particular piece emphasises the full message behind the whole concept of The Lion King. Both performances of this song were powerful but also haunting – my skin prickled with goosebumps and once again tears threatened to fall. The whole score was magnificent, but the these two and the opening left the strongest impression. It was interesting to see a few new songs that I could not remember being performed before. A wonderful way of keeping the audience’s attention; it kept the tale alive and fresh.

I thouroughly enjoyed the influence of traditional African culture that lightened up the stage. It was interesting to see Mufasa portrayed as a warrior with weapons and small rituals – I personally found it quite clever. The costumes and puppetry are rooted in African traditions that just increases the escapism and the otherness that encompasses the performance. It was quite refreshing to see that it was influenced more by tradition than by Disney as it allows the tale to stand strong on its own without the support of a name.

The overall performance was captivating and thrilling; it was as if it were the first time I had witnessed the story. My friends summed it up as exhilarating, awesome and mind blowing. From the costumes to the stage itself, to the interpretations of certain scenes; everything will tingle your senses and leave you exhausted from enjoyment. If you ever get the opportunity to go and see it, I highly do recommend that you do.

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One Response to “The Lion King – London”

  1. Mark Boss February 12, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

    Awesome, awesome blog Jessie. Well written!

    ❤ – hearts explode and tears flow

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