United Kingdom

A review of The Lion King musical Vittoria Bello-Borges, Notre Dame School

Watching The Lion King musical at the Lyceum Theatre in London was an experience I will most certainly never forget. From the moment I entered the theatre, the buzzing crowd filled me with adrenaline and as the curtain rose, a red light lit up the theatre, silencing all of us. The first song began and I immediately had goosebumps. The band played so powerfully and intensely that the songs seemed to bounce off the walls – it felt like I was in a dream and I hadn’t experienced anything like it before.

The musical focuses on the adventures of young lion Simba, the heir of his father, Mufasa. Simba’s wicked uncle, Scar plots to take the throne by luring the father and son into a stampede of wild animals in attempt to kill them both. The story unravels with suspense, misery, and joy as we follow Simba’s journey from a naive cub to fierce lion.

What sets the Lion King musical apart from the others is the designing of the costumes for the animals. Not only did they expose the mechanics of the costumes to the audience, but they let the art of making theatre become part of the experience. There were no hidden features just the reality behind the making and this is what stood out most to me. My personal favourite costume were the giraffes: they had stilts attached to the arms and feet of the dancers, just like an animal on all fours and yet they still managed to dance so gracefully, and this is what was so captivating about the show. Another intriguing aspect of the costume design were the actors who wore masks above their heads rather than on their faces, which I later discovered was so that when an animal attacks, the mask can be taken off and pushed forward in an aggressive manner to appear predatorial. The designing was so complex, and every tiny detail had so much thought put into to it. It is truly mesmerising how simple sketches in a notebook could be brought to life.

The audience see characters rise out of the stage on a circular staircase that ascends and descends portraying scenery such as the infamous cliff where Simba is lifted in the air and presented to the other animals at the very beginning of the story. The essence of theatre is to animate inanimate objects and put life into them and that is exactly what the Lion King musical achieved.

Although the pandemic was a major setback for these performances initially, the musicals are becoming increasingly popular and the whole experience was unforgettable. I could watch this musical over a thousand times and never get bored by the fresh and exciting movements of the dancers or the complex, mechanical costumes. Every song is imprinted in my mind and this experience will never fade from my memory.

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