Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Lion King Will Be Mane Event; What's on Editor GORDON BARR Goes Backstage at the Lion King Ahead of Its North East Debut

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Lion King Will Be Mane Event; What's on Editor GORDON BARR Goes Backstage at the Lion King Ahead of Its North East Debut

Article excerpt

Byline: GORDON BARR

FEW musicals have had quite the same buzz - or should that be roar? - about its forthcoming arrival in the North East than The Lion King.

Mamma Mia! for sure, and I do remember Cats having the same impact many moons ago.

Come September 18, the Disney spectacular will be entertaining audiences at Sunderland Empire all the way through to November 1. There are few musicals which could warrant such a lengthy run these days, but it is apt for The Lion King.

I saw it a few years ago in London and last month caught it again in Liverpool as part of its UK tour.

Again, I was blown away by it, as was the audience at the matinee performance I caught, who were on their feet, clapping and `roaring' their approval within seconds of the show starting.

Why? Well, if you have not seen the show in the past, I am not going to spoil it for you. Suffice to say make sure you do not arrive late if you have tickets for Sunderland (if you don't, my advice is you really should buy some!) as you will miss one of the biggest treats of the entire production.

The Lion King is packed with outstanding musical numbers, but it is the puppetry, set design and sheer scale of the show which sets it apart from most. It broke the mould in the puppet world long before War Horse had ever been thought of, and the latter owes a huge debt of gratitude to The Lion King.

It all looks so easy on stage, but it simply wouldn't work, as with all productions, without the backstage crew and I had the pleasure of a tour behind the scenes to see how it all worked.

On stage, audiences are taken through the story of lion cub Simba, his trials and tribulations and his journey to becoming The Lion King.

But backstage scores of unseen people are responsible for making sure the tale unfolds seamlessly.

In fact, taking The Lion King on the road involves more than 100 people, all with their little - and not so little -bits to do. …

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