Ahead of its run at Manchester’s Palace Theatre later this year, Frankly, My Dear UK was invited to a special launch event with the cast and crew of Disney’s THE LION KING musical

Frankly, My Dear UK was invited to a special launch event at the Palace Theatre with the cast and crew of Disney’s THE LION KING musical, due to land in Manchester in October this year.

Based on the 1994 animated Disney film, THE LION KING has brought its magic to our stages for over 23 years, first gracing our audiences in New York in 1997. Having now been performed in nine different languages on every continent (except Antarctica), THE LION KING has been seen by over 110 million people worldwide. It is, therefore, not surprising that the story of THE LION KING resonates with so many.

Set in the beautifully dramatic African savanna, THE LION KING follows the journey and growth of young Simba, a lion cub, born to be king of the Pride Lands. Simba faces a difficult choice when his Uncle Scar leads him to believe he is to blame for his father, Mufasa’s death. Running from his guilt and into the arms of Timon and Pumbaa, Scar seizes power over the Pride Lands, leading them to darkness and despair. The musical is a spectacle for the eyes, a story of hope, loss, and love.

Michael O’Donnell, Joint Resident Director, led the intimate afternoon, posing the question as to why THE LION KING has been so successful for the last 23 years. The question was quickly answered by opening with 20-year resident Rafiki performer, Thandazile Soni, as she wowed the room with her sensational opening number, THE CIRCLE OF LIFE. When asked about the song, Soni said it was a blessing to be able to open the show and sing such a powerful song; she noted that THE CIRCLE OF LIFE is the ‘whole show in one song.’

Soni continued to say that “you take the story [of THE LION KING] and apply it to everything you have in your own life.” Whether that is “watching the show or delivering the show, the story is going to live for the longest time.”

Nokwanda Khuzwayo plays Nala in the UK tour with equally brilliant vocals bringing her international experience, having previously performed Narla not just in English but in Portuguese, German, and Mandarin. Khuzwayo said she has been ‘very blessed’ to play the role, which is not your typical Disney princess; ‘she’s a badass, she’s a king.’

Equally as impressive as the sensational vocals, the phenomenal stills of Visionary Director Julie Taymor’s puppets and costumes were dotted around the room. Matthew Forbes delightfully displayed his Zazu puppetry skills beautifully, bringing the bird to life. Forbes said about playing Zazu in the film, “Rowan Atkinson voiced Zazu, so it’s a pleasure to bring those lines back to life.” With over 230 puppets in the show of varying styles and sizes, there will be many moments in the musical to wow audiences.

We were given a snippet of what to expect later in the year, which has left us wanting more; as Soni eloquently says, THE LION KING is ‘a magnificent piece that all can relate to.’

Get your tickets (and be quick) for the run at the Palace Theatre from 27 October – 24 December ’22.