Lion King roars on Playhouse stage

January 30, 2013 | By More

“Extraordinary” demand as tickets go on sale

Simba (Nicholas Nkuna) and Nala (Ava Brennan) with Mufasa and Scar masks at the Edinburgh Playhouse. Photo © Thom Dibdin

Simba (Nicholas Nkuna) and Nala (Ava Brennan) with Mufasa and Scar masks at the Edinburgh Playhouse. Photo © Thom Dibdin

By Thom Dibdin

Tickets for the touring production of The Lion King, arriving at the Edinburgh Playhouse on October 12, have gone on general sale with the theatre “overwhelmed and delighted” by demand.

Hundreds of people were already queuing outside the theatre from 6am on Wednesday morning. At 7am staff gave out coffee and cakes – and even offered the use of an umbrella – ahead of the box office’s official opening at 8am.

Demand was so high that the number of counters selling tickets was doubled to eight, with online tickets not going on sale until 11am.

Gary Roden, general manager of the venue said: “We are absolutely overwhelmed and delighted by the response today. We were expecting queues but today’s response from the public has been extraordinary. Despite the weather, we have had hundreds of people queuing outside our box office since 6am.”

Although audiences will have to wait until October for a first glimpse of the Lion Kind in Edinburgh, the characters Simba, Nala and Rafiki made an appearance at a launch event at the theatre on Monday.

The highlights of the event were the songs…

Guests were led through the darkened theatre and on to the stage itself, where banked seating looked out into the empty 3,000 seat auditorium – which, it is anticipated, will be sold out for the 116 performances.

The hour-long event included a presentation on the “improbable journey from screen to stage” of the smash-hit musical by Disney’s Stephen Crocker. This included glimpses of the original costume designs, the thinking behind the show’s spectacular puppetry and interviews with  director Julie Taymor.

The Edinburgh Playhouse dressed for the Lion King. Photo © Thom Dibdin

The Edinburgh Playhouse dressed for the Lion King. Photo © Thom Dibdin

But the highlights of the event were the songs. Gugwana Dlamini who is a wonderfully demonstrative Rafiki and who appeared on the original film soundtrack, sang Circle of Life backed by Edinburgh’s Gospel Truth Choir.

Ava Brennan, who plays Nala in the London production, duetted with Nicholas Nkuna, who plays Simba on tour, on Elton John and Tim Rice’s Can You Feel The Love Tonight. And just to add a sense of the new, Brennan returned to sing Hans Zimmer and Mark Mancina’s Shadowlands. The event was rounded off in superb style with a vibrant performance of the heavily South African-influenced He Lives In You.

With the masks used by the characters of Mufasa and Scar flanking the stage – Mufasa’s rounded and whole as befits a benign king with Scar’s jagged and asymetric to mark is betrayal – this was a real taste of the thrill of a truly large-scale performance.

As Rodden added of the ticket sales: “It just underlines how big an event Disney’s The Lion King is going to be for the Playhouse and all of Edinburgh. It will undoubtedly be the hottest theatre ticket in Scotland during 2013 and the most anticipated Scottish premiere of a musical this century.”

Disney’s The Lion King plays the Edinburgh Playhouse Saturday 12 October 2013 – Saturday 18 January 1014.

Tickets are on sale in Edinburgh at the Playhouse Box Office, by phone on on 0844 871 7692 and online at: www.thelionking.co.uk

ENDS

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