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    REVIEW: The Lion King . . . Long Live the King

         Everyone has seen the film. We all know the story and the songs are now timeless Disney classics. This alone is enough to get people through the door at the Lyceum to see the stage version of The Lion King, now in its 17th year in the West End. But what awaits audiences on stage?

    The vision that audiences are presented with is a wonderful fusion of Julie Taymor’s artistic vision, African culture and a dollop of Disney. While the dialogue is, for the most part, identical to that of the film but there are some great innovations along the way. Added to the familiar soundtrack is a score textured with traditional instruments along with a handful of new songs, 'He Lives in You' being a favourite. 

    The staging of the piece and use of puppetry is, by far, the best and most exciting thing about this musical. The opening number with a veritable menagerie assembling on the stage to the soaring 'Circle of Life' sets the precedent for the evening and is worth the ticket fee alone. Elephants, giraffes, birds, gazelles and more are represented on stage through a mixture of physicality and breath taking puppets. The production values are outstanding and it goes to show that Disney never do anything by halves. 

    The production has been updated along the way to include references to Frozen and a popular television helping to keep the show fresh. It is certainly worth a visit just for the sheer spectacle. As it plays to full houses night after night, it seems no sign in going anywhere in the near future. Long live the King. 

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