The Lion King UK Tour (Edinburgh Playhouse.) Review.

The Lion King is my second favourite film of all time (behind Back to the Future.) It’s a film I never get tired of and I own more Blu-ray copies of it then anything else (Diamond Edition Blu-ray,Regular Blu-Ray 3D edition, 3D Steelbook with lenticular magnet, regular gloss finish 3D Steelbook and 4k Signature Edition Steelbook.) That said i’ve never been massively inclined to see the stage adaptation. I know the film so well that beyond the iconic costumes I was not sure what the stage adaptation could offer. Other shows have taken priority on my yearly trips into the West End every July (why I try and see see two three new shows.) When the mammoth run at the Edinburgh Playhouse (one of my favourite venues) was announced I saw this as an opportunity to finally knock seeing the show on the head. I obviously went in with high expectations given how many times I’ve seen it appear on greatest show of all time lists. Did did it live up to the hype?
Yes and no? There’s no denying that The Lion King out on stage is still an incredibly impressive achievement even decades on from its premiere. It’s all pulled off thanks to the puppetry and costume design which is impressive if you were just looking at it as a static image but even more so when it is in motion. The songs and story are just as iconic as ever. That said the show really suffers pacing wise from stretching the 80 minute plot of the original film into your standard two-and-a-half hours with interval stage structure. Don’t get me wrong the afro percussion interludes are a nice distraction and are very well performed but especially in Act 1 the pace feels like it crawls to a standstill at times. It’s still relatively engaging because the film and story are well loved for a reason but it won’t be challenging my favourite shows list anytime soon. The obvious point of comparison that came to mind was Andrew Lloyd Webber and Julian Fellowes adaptation of School of Rock (which based on on the London production is awesome and the current king of film to musical adaptations.) It also adapts a film that requires some fleshing out and additional content so that it fits a two and a half half hour structure but the additional content there is flows a lot better with the pace of the story and show. The Lion King feel sluggish by comparison.
Don’t get me wrong The Lion King on stage is an experience every theatre fan should have at least once. That said I’d be lying if I came here ear and said the touring production as it exists in 2019 doesn’t have pacing issues and things that prevent it from joining my personal list of favourite shows (including War Horse, Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, Hamilton, Wicked, Hairspray and Come From Away among others.)
The Lion King is currently playing at the Edinburgh Playhouse until April 18th 2020.

One thought on “The Lion King UK Tour (Edinburgh Playhouse.) Review.

  1. I saw Lion King twice during two US Tours- I only wanted to see Lion King a 2nd time because I do not remember the first time (too young to remember). My mom, sister, and I last year were sitting in the orchestra at the aisle- best seats to see that musical. Loved it


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