REVIEW: The Lion King is a technical and emotional marvel 4 months ago

REVIEW: The Lion King is a technical and emotional marvel

The musical of The Lion King hits the capital for the next few weeks.

There are a number of musicals that should probably be on everybody's bucket list. We're talking about Les Miserables, Cats, Wicked, Hamilton, Chicago, West Side Story, Cabaret... and absolutely one of those is The Lion King.

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Since it premiered in Broadway in 1997, The Lion King musical has been a constant mention on the must-see list, especially by those who wouldn't necessarily call themselves fans of musical theatre. And we're happy to announce that the Dublin production of the hit show does not disappoint.

Sticking pretty closely to the plot, characters and songs of the 1994 Oscar-winning animated movie, the Hamlet-but-with-lions production is a masterclass in mixing performance, puppetry, music, lighting, props and stage design to an incredible heightened level.

From the moment Rafiki blasts out the opening bars of "Circle Of Life", while the life-size elephants and wildebeest wander through the crowd towards the stage, right up to the goosebump inducing battle between Simba and Scar for the future of Pride Lands, the musical serves as a live-action reminder of just how properly brilliant this Disney tale truly is.

The Lion King

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The performances in The Lion King are magnificently physical

It isn't all incredible, with one or two of the additional musical numbers not hitting the same highs as the original Elton John/Tim Rice creations, and one or two of the jokes from the King's assistant Zuzu try too hard to break the fourth wall just for laughs; the Riverdance gag killed, but the Penneys one, not so much.

(Full disclosure: during our showing, there were three stoppages due to technical difficulties. But in vintage Irish fashion, once the show was announced to be about to continue, the audience erupted into rapturous applause, like we're landing on an Ryanair flight.)

(Even fuller disclosure: the entire night was almost singularly ruined by one influencer who, mere seconds after the announcer asked people not to record the show, proceeded to record the show. And then spent the rest of the entire 165 minute runtime editing photos with their screen on full brightness. Dear Influencer, I really hope you're reading this, because I need you to know that a darkness-filled theatre is not the place to be constantly updating your social media.)

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The Lion King musical is in the rare position to be both a massive hit of nostalgia for older attendees, while also being a monumental and memorable day out for younger patrons. The fact that the production is able to create an original-but-still-honourable spin on some huge scenes from the movie - I was racking my brain on how they'd do the stampede, but it absolutely did not disappoint - is nothing short of a triumph. It also helps that all of those OG songs still absolutely slap.

The Lion King is running in the Bord Gais Energy Theatre until 11 November.

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