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“The Lion King”

The Lion King is the story of the King of Pridelands, who is basically deposed and killed by the scheming of his jealous brother, and how Simba his son returns as King to take up where his father left off.  There is plenty of scope for all the different jungle animals to appear, making this a colourful and striking production.

The first thing that struck me as walked into the Hall was the beautiful back drop, and a super set.  All depicting the Lion King setting, colourfully lit with reds to give maximum impact, it also reflected the different lighting moods as the action progressed.  The opening was very evocative with a small amount of smoke drifting across the stage and gradual lighting uplift.

The elephant graveyard was also nicely conceived, with scene changes kept to the minimum timewise – very slick.  

I always find it uplifting to see how this final year at Parkfields all work together to give us what is always a charming production, good technically and with some memorable performances.  I am also aware of the planning and work that goes into a production like this, and wish that more schools could use this as a way of keeping the pupils together at the end of the year, as it taps into so many skills that could be useful to them in their future lives. Very well done to Susie Conder and the staff for organising such an inclusive project, no mean feat.

These schools versions of famous musicals and Disney films are easy to follow, and echo the original well, using the familiar music.  

I liked the opening with Rafiki (Jodie Carney) standing on the rock and leading the first song, with the ensemble joining in, to make it a rousing number.  Jodie was confident, and I think that led the way for the rest of the cast.

Zazu, the King’s attendant, was played with great confidence and panache by Emily Turner.  I particularly liked her costume, and very distinctive make-up, which was echoed to a lesser degree by Rafiki.

Perhaps a little more volume from the ensemble as a general comment would have been nice, as they seemed a little tentative.

Simba (Hannah Ridley) was a lovely character, good interpretation, going from believing Scar’s tales which resulted in the death of his father, to the triumphant return.  Young Simba (Tiffany Goto) also performed really well.  Both young ladies showing good musical ability.

Nala and Young Nala (Madison Varney and Olivia Botterell) were charming, singing their songs well.

Mufasa (Sofie Waters) gave the role gravitas as King of the Jungle, and I liked the effect when he returned to speak to Simba to encourage him to go back and take the kingdom from Scar.

Scar (Ella Fountain) had loads of attitude and edginess, to complement the slyness of the animal, she also had a strong voice well-suited to the music, and was very expressive.

I loved the pairing of Timon (Emily Thornton-Greet) and Pumbaa (Anja O’Shea), they worked so well together, and were really into their characterisations, lots of expression and good projection - very well done.

I can’t mention everyone in the cast unfortunately, but everyone bought into what they had to do, and there was some interesting choreography.  I particularly liked the Stampede, good movement, then followed by the Mourning, which was so touching.

Hakuna Matata was very lively as a contrast to the previous slower and more poignant moments.

I thought Shadowland was a difficult song that Nala performed really well, leading into Can You Feel the Love Tonight, that Timon, Pumbaa, Simba and Nala lead beautifully, with the ensemble joining in too.

All in all a good production, that allowed everyone to be involved, leaving me feeling that we’d all had a very uplifting and engrossing evening, with some humour, undoubted angst, and a final resolution seeing Simba as rightful King.

Parkfields Middle School - 14th July 2017


Director, Producer:  Susie Conder  MD:  Debbie Nicholls Choreographer: Susie Conder &Team


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