Everybody knows I love musicals and any excuse for a city trip. So for Christmas this year I got me and my friend Sara tickets to go and see The Lion King tour in Edinburgh Playhouse. I had seen the Lion King years ago in the Lyceum Theatre in London and loved it, but when it had come to Sunderland on tour a couple of years ago I just couldn’t justify the price to go back. Now to must be about 10 years since I saw it the first time, and with the help of some cheap tickets I felt ready to go back!
We got first class train tickets with LNER to travel up to Edinburgh from Newcastle so our breakfast on board really set us up well for the day ahead.
We were going to the matinee performance so had a little mooch around the shops and headed over to the theatre. There was a mob of people outside waiting to get in, but luckily, the cheap seat folks in the balcony got to go in a side door and straight upstairs! Score!
I had been to Edinburgh Playhouse once before to see Les Miserables (back when it wasn’t cool because the film didn’t exist), and sat in similar seats. Let me tell you this, for the Lion King the seats were absolutely fine; yes they were really compacted in and if you’re scared of heights it’s not great, but the view wasn’t limited and I knew everything going on. When I saw Les Mis on the other hand, I wasn’t familiar with the story and couldn’t work out which character was which so was massively confused.
For the Lion King, there were bongo drums playing in the boxes playing before the show started which set a nice atmosphere. Then as soon as the music started for The Circle of Life started me and Sara were welled up with emotion, tears streaming down our face. One downside to sitting in the balcony was missing out on the animals coming in through the audience, I had seen it happen before so it wasn’t the end of the world, but I felt bad for Sara missing it. So if it’s your first time pay the extra to be able to experience it.
My actor highlight of the show was definitely Thandazile Soni who played Rafiki. Her performance was definitely inspired by the animated movie but her own. Steve Beirnaert who played Timon super bugged me, at times it was a double for the film but at other times it was just weird, I would’ve rather he just totally did his own thing. Carl Sanderson was a great Pumbaa though! I also felt like Dashaun Young; who played adult Simba, was great, but he then overpronunciated for me.
If you’ve never seen the musical there are some great additional songs. My favourites are Shadowland which is sung by Nala and Paige Peddie who played the role was great at it. And He Lives In You Reprise which is Rafiki. Love it.
The staging was pretty similar to the London version too. Except instead of growing out of the stage, Pride Rock slides on. The Savannah animals are still great, the giraffes are amazing! It’s honestly such a feel good production and although it is quite expensive, even just getting some cheap tickets are worth it! It’s playing in Edinburgh for a while so if you get the chance go! If not I’m sure it’ll be a city near you soon.