UK Tour Preview: The Lion King

Preview by Anne Mackie

Last night, were delighted to attend the preview of the upcoming UK and Ireland Tour of Disney’s The Lion King which is due to hit the Edinburgh stage this Christmas.

The 2019 tour coincides with the 20th Anniversary of the West End production which premiered at London’s Lyceum Theatre in October 1999. Since then, The Lion King has entertained over 15 million theatregoers and remains the West End’s bestselling stage show (and sixth longest running West End musical) of all time!

The press launch took place in the atmospheric, candle lit setting of the Caves in Edinburgh’s Cowgate district – the perfect back drop for the hottest musical in town. Representatives from Disney Theatrical Group were in attendance, presenting an in-depth account of how this iconic and much loved tale has made it’s mark in theatre history.

We all know the narrative behind the most famous lion cub of all time however the stage production features a cast of over 59 actors, singers and dancers all of whom bring Director Julie Taymor’s creative genius to life using expertly crafted masks, costumes and puppetry. Add the glorious melodies of Elton John, Tim Rice and South African Composer, Lebo M into the mix and you truly have a production that is a force to be reckoned with.

But no Musical Theatre preview is complete without a performance or two…or four if you are as lucky as we were! Cast members playing the roles of Rafiki, Nala and Simba filled the caves with their magnificent renditions of the show’s classic numbers. Direct from the production’s opening, The Circle of Life instantly brought the house down, followed by stunning versions of Can You Feel The Love Tonight? and Shadowland - a piece that was written especially for the Broadway stage. The musical entertainment ended with the outstanding He Lives in You, leaving the guests under no illusion as to why this beautiful story has come to be the success it has – both on stage, in animation and now in light of the much anticipated live action film, due to be released in July this year.

The production last visited the Edinburgh Playhouse in 2012, breaking attendance records and bringing high volumes of non-theatregoers to the theatre. It is hoped the upcoming tour will achieve a similar success in 2019 with producers implementing new ways for the production to remain as inclusive and accessible as possible. Disney Theatrical Group are introducing relaxed performances for those with additional needs in which house lights will remain up for the duration of the show, allowing individuals, regardless of boundaries, to experience the magic onstage. Cast members and trained Disney practitioners are also scheduled to facilitate 90 minute Lion King workshops for fans who fancy stepping into the perfectly-choreographed-paws of their favourite African wildlife.

The Walt Disney Company and the Edinburgh Playhouse hosted a thoroughly enjoyable, informative and musically spine-tingling preview of the epic and awe-inspiring, ‘The Lion King’. As the music echoed around the Caves, it was clear that this landmark production Just Can’t Wait to be King – and we can’t wait either!

Tickets are on sale from 6th March with performances beginning on 5th December at the Edinburgh Playhouse Theatre.