Regardless of age nobody could fail to be mesmerised by the magic of 'The Lion King', and with 90 crew members and 232 puppets it's safe to say this show does not do things by half. This coming of age story follows Simba, a young lion cub eagerly waiting to follow in his father's footsteps and become the King of the Pridelands.
Often with a touring production comes slimmed down sets and costumes, but not here. Everything you'd expect to see in the West End show is present and correct and having seen both I actually preferred the atmosphere of a smaller theatre. The tickets specify to be seated at least 5 minutes before curtain up and without giving too much away you will not want to miss why. The familiar opening note from Circle of Life starts and the stage is suddenly alive with colour as we see Julie Taymor's vision come alive when the animals gather to celebrate the birth of their future king.
With music and lyrics by Elton John and Tim Rice the score is filled not only with songs you would expect to hear such as Can You Feel The Love Tonight and Hakuna Matata, but also numbers with traditional African styles which really pull the production together.
The cast as a whole delivered a perfect performance. John Hasler had Timone's sarcastic streak nailed and had great rapport with Lee Ormsby who played Pumba. One highlight for me was Gugwana Dlamini's take on Rafiki - she brought such warmth and energy to the role. I also enjoyed the addition of a Scottish Zazu (Meilyr Sion), although I'm not sure how well the colloquialisms would translate outwith a Scottish audience.
It's really great to see regional theatres housing productions of this size and judging by the electric atmosphere in the audience last night I have no doubt the show will have a successful run here.