There were a host of ‘well-kent’ faces at the press night for Disney’s The Lion King at the Edinburgh Playhouse on Tuesday evening. Tennis coach Judy Murray, Still Game star Sanjeev Kohli, Olympic medallist Eilidh Doyle and one of Scotland’s funniest comedians Craig Hill were there ready to be entertained.

And they would not be disappointed after a spectacular show which thrilled the capacity audience.

One of the most popular stage musicals in the world is in Edinburgh just in time for Christmas. Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions under the direction of Thomas Schumacher, The Lion King began its lengthy run at the Edinburgh Playhouse last week and is proving to be as hugely popular as ever.

The award-winning musical explodes with glorious colours, stunning effects and enchanting music. It follows the powerful story of Simba as he journeys from wide-eyed cub to his destined role as King of the Pridelands.

The stage adaption is a huge work of art. Julie Taymor, the show’s director and costume designer understands that the stage version has to be different from the film. The costumes for the stage production have become part of the legend and there are new songs and new ways of telling Simba’s story on the stage.

Right from the beginning The Lion King was an enthralling spectacle. With some of the audience still taking their seats some of the performers in their superb animal costumes ran down the aisles to bound on to the stage while others entered in equally dramatic fashion. In particular, the performers on stilts as giraffes were magnificent while the elephant lumbered on to great acclaim.

For those who don’t know, The Lion King tells the story of Simba, a young lion cub who is nurtured by his father Mufasa, played with great passion by Jean-Luc Guizonne. As you might expect the young Simba gets into all manner of scrapes and danger, despite the warnings of his father.

The theme of the first part of the story is the relationship between Mufasa and his brother Scar – Simba’s uncle – a fine performance from Richard Hurst. Scar is envious of his brother’s claim to be King of the Jungle and he lures young Simba into a dangerous scenario involving a stampede of a herd of wildebeest.  Mufasa rescues his young son but gives his life as a consequence with his spiteful brother doing nothing to save him.

©Disney

Simba runs away and builds a new life with the jovial support of Timon and Pumbaa, the undoubted stars of the second part of the show. Now a young man, Simba is reunited with an old friend and urged to return to the land where his father was king. And as the old saying goes, revenge is a dish best served cold…

As regular theatre goer for The Edinburgh Reporter, I have to say Disney’s The Lion King is one of the most spectacular shows I’ve seen. The production, the costumes, the musical score and the first-class performances of the cast are simply sublime. The special effects were something to behold and the show had a mesmeric quality. It’s wall-to-wall entertainment and if you can still get a ticket for shows before Christmas it would make the ideal gift. Even if you can’t make it before the festive break, the show is on until the end of March. It’s so good you may well want to see it again!

Never mind the film version – the real magic is on the stage and in our capital city right now.

Disney’s The Lion King is on at the Edinburgh Playhouse until 29th March 2020. Tickets here

Edinburgh Reporter rating: ★★★★★

Josslynn Hlenti Nala Dashaun Young Simba and the company in Disney’s The Lion King UK and Ireland tour ©Disney