The Lion King ~ Live Action Movie (Malvern Cinemas)

Star rating: *****

The Lion King has long been one of my best loved Disney movie. It’s jam packed with action, tragedy, comedy and with an overriding theme of love conquering all. The beauty of the animated version never fails to amaze me. However, the live action incarnation wowed and impressed me beyond measure. It follows the same storyline and the same well-loved Disney songs are peppered throughout which it was difficult not to sing along to but they’re sung by what looks like real animals!

The attention to detail is remarkable and the setting for the movie is absolutely breath-taking. Disney are renowned for perfection and this is not exception.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story, we follow the adventures Simba, a lion cub who’s next in line to the throne and the apple of his mum and dad’s eye. His Uncle Scar, who’s not a lion in favour with the pride lurks in the shadows and has been pushed further down the line of ascension courtesy of Simba’s birth. Feeling wronged, Scar is on a mission to dispose of Mufasa, his brother and his young nephew to leave the path clear for him to seize the crown. He’s relying on the help of hungry hyenas to assist with his plan. Meanwhile Simba is oblivious to his relative’s devious plot and comes a cropper at his paws a couple of times, until a stampede created by the devilish hyenas is the catalyst for Mufasa’s devastating downfall. Simba is not only bereft but also carrying the guilt that he caused his father’s death as Mufasa was trying to save him from the stampede which Scar had all but pushed his nephew into. As Simba grows in exile – he has the company of a meerkat called Timon and his bestie Pumbaa, a warthog. Scar has his ill-gotten place on the throne as King, and his hyena sidekicks are feasting like royalty beside him. Will Simba return to save the day? Nala, the lioness who was a childhood friend and his betrothed according to law, is certainly not going to sit back and let chaos reign supreme.

The unmistakable velvet voice of James Earl Jones features as Mufasa, who else could have brought such wisdom, knowledge and authority to the King of the Jungle? He is joined by the talents of Chitiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, he was just as demonic as Jeremy Irons was in the role. There’s also Beyonce Knowles-Carter as Nala, JD McCrary as young Simba, Donald Glover as the adult Simba, Billy Eichner as Timon alongside the fantastic Seth Rogen as Pumbaa. Florence Kasumba as Shenzi the Hyena was a menacing presence for sure. John Oliver gave a memorable performance as Zazu.

My highlights of the film revolved around the numerous moments of laugh out loud comedy – from Timon and Pumbaa’s interactions and the addition of other animals in their fabulous rendition of ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’! The hyenas also provided much entertainment as they bantered between themselves. Zazu was also as comedic as in the original animation, John Oliver has put his own stamp on it.

The sound department have done a superb job and the entire creative team should be proud of a wonderful achievement, as a live action movie so far it’s my favourite.

Malvern Cinemas is an amazing setting to watch a movie in – why not check out their listings and book to see a film there: Malvern Cinemas

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Seven Spectacular Family Shows to see this Autumn in the West End *Guest Post from TickX*

Our impressively sunshiny-summer has come to an end, meaning it’s time for families to head back to the office and back to school. Luckily, London’s theatre playground has a whole host of family shows to cheer up the Autumnal months, featuring well known classics and one-off specials. Whether it’s a midweek treat or a weekend adventure, head to the West End this Autumn with our sizzling pick of shows to see with the kids.

1. Matilda

The Roald Dahl classic gained its second wave of fame with the movie release in 1996. It was then reimagined as a stage adaptation by Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin and premiered at the Cambridge Theatre in 2011. The musical version of the gifted girl brings to life all the memorable characters before your very eyes; the vain and fraudulent Wormwoods , the adorable Miss Honey and the terrifying Miss Trunchbull, with a brand new cast set for September 2018. After scooping up a record number of Olivier Awards for a musical and receiving wide critical acclaim, Matilda the Musical is beloved by audiences of all ages.

The show is running at the Cambridge Theatre until October 19th, set to welcome its eighth million spectator after a stellar run in the West End. With magic and madness, Matilda is the perfect mid-week treat to get you to the weekend, and will now be showing at an earlier time of 7pm on weekdays to better accommodate families.

2. Lion King

It feels like this show has been around for a long time – and it’s simply because it really is that good. Similarly to the Disney film released in 1994, the award-winning musical pulls on heartstrings as it tells the tale of lion cub Simba and his quest to overthrow his uncle to become the rightful king of the pridelands. Set against the backdrop of the Serengeti Plains, the rhythmic African music and sing-a-long lyrics created by Sir Elton John and Tim Rice for the movie are brought to live in the evocative live score, while the colourful creative costumes are nothing but impressive. Children and adults alike will be immersed into the world of the Lion King, as characters such as Zazu, Timon and Pumba, Rafiki, the hyenas and more are played out on stage in a novel approach to children’s theatre.

The epic musical more than justifies its extensive run at the Lyceum Theatre. As the cool weather creeps in this Autumn, the Lion King guarantees to warm your soul.

 

3. Aladdin

Alternatively, swap African plains for Arabian nights and head to the Prince Edward Theatre for an enchanting magic carpet ride. Aladdin is another example of a Disney classic creatively remastered for stage, bringing all the best elements from the 1992 film to life as never before imagined. While some reviews have suggested the musical is a panto-in-disguise, there has been no doubt that the spectacular sets, special effects and jewel-encrusted costumes translate the magic of Agrabah to stage.

Furthermore, young children will be captivated by the larger than life characters such as The Genie, while the elder among us will revel in the plot’s synonymity with the Disney animation. Plus, any show that features hits such as ‘A Whole New World’ and ‘Friend Like Me’ is certainly worth its salt. The exotic escape is the perfect way to tackle the beginning of the new school year and the end of summer, uniting radiant colours, a golden lamp and youthful nostalgia to transport you away.

 

4. School of Rock

Nothing cheers kids up for going back to school than the School of Rock. This musical offers something a little more grown up than the likes of Disney, but is still very geared towards families and children aged eight and over. Based upon the 2003 movie starring Jack Black, School of Rock the Musical follows struggling and unemployed rock guitarist Dewey Finn as he poses as a substitute teacher to make some money. Finn realises his students are musically-talented, and so sets forth in spawning a school rock band who are to compete in the Battle of the Bands. The fun and rebellious West End production features music by theatre royalty, Andrew Lloyd Webber, combining songs from the film and new original numbers. Undoubtedly, the best part of School of Rock is the pocket-sized talent on stage, where the child cast can really rock out and impress audiences.

 

5. Wicked

The prequel to the ‘Wizard of Oz’ has become a global sensation. It follows two protagonists; Elphaba and Glinda, who grow up to become the Wicked Witch of the West and the Good Witch of the South. From their perspective, we learn what lead them into their distinguished roles, cultivating a story of friendship and rivalry, love and betrayal and importantly, Elphaba’s lapse into ‘wickedness’. Children will fall in love with the beautiful score created by Academy-award winning Stephen Schwartz while adults will cherish it’s associations to the 1939 classic starring Judy Garland as ‘Dorothy Gale’.

This Autumn, the gravity-defying musical will be celebrating a whopping 12 years in the West End, after surpassing its landmark 5000th performance at the Apollo Victoria Theatre last month. It has gained such uniform approval that there have even been talks of making it into a movie – just be sure to see it on stage first.

 

6. Paddington in concert

On Sunday 14th October, the Peruvian bear will commemorate its 60th anniversary with a live 60-piece orchestral accompaniment to the 2014 film ‘Paddington’. George Jackson will be commanding The Novello Orchestra with Nick Urata’s cheerful score, inducing the perfect introduction for young children to classical music. Moreover, the cute and charming film inspired by Michael Bond’s children’s books won the hearts of adults too, making it a great afternoon out for all the family. Hollywood stars Julie Walters and Nicole Kidman contribute to the film’s star-studded cast, while Ben Whishaw provides the voice for Paddington. It received plenty of praise and critical acclaim, founded upon its ability to transform a treasured classic into a modern movie with appeal for today’s kids.

The production is a one-off event set just before the busy half term. It promises to entertain and charm at the Theatre Royal, and even feature guest stars Nick Urata and Paddington!

 

  1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Enter a world of spells and sorcery this Autumn with the eighth installment of the wizardly-wonderful Harry Potter series by JK Rowling presented on stage. It famously secured the most Olivier Awards for a play despite only opening in 2016, and has been described as a ‘triumph’ (The Daily Telegraph) and ‘magical experience’ (London Evening Standard). The creatives behind Parts 1 and 2 of the Cursed Child include multiple award winning Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, responsible for writing and directing the play respectively, worked closely with Rowling to ensure the stage adaptation is as spellbinding and captivating as the book. It tells the tale of Harry Potter, 19 years on, tackling demons from his past. Similarly to the literary saga, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child live has proven popular across generations, with audiences of all ages leaving the Palace Theatre in awe.

Written by Aminah Barnes on behalf of TickX, a ticket search engine comparing events such as theatre, gigs and club nights across the UK.

 

Disney On Ice Passport to Adventure ~ Arena Birmingham

Disney On Ice is on UK tour with Passport to Adventure – click here for tour dates and to book tickets: Disney On Ice

Star rating: *****

Disney is a firm favourite in our household and having been to Disneyland Paris this year (third time for my husband and I, first time for our three year old son) Disney on Ice seemed like the ideal outing to keep the magic going until we can return to the place that our boy can’t stop talking about!

What the Passport to Adventure show brings you is four different films brought to life by incredible ice dancers in character costumes. Providing the ‘narration’ are Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck and a hapless Goofy who delighted our child with his antics. It’s a non-stop cornucopia of Disney hits and scenes played out in the most extraordinary style.

The shows we were treated to included: The Lion King, Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid and Frozen. We were also joined by Judy Hops and Nick Fox from Zootropolis, before the main event – they were getting us all on our feet in a Fit to Dance session. Which is a brilliant idea and was embraced by all in the arena.

The Lion King featured some exceptional skating, with jumps, tricks and one skater in a Pumba costume – no mean feat! Peter Pan included flying in their section, naturally, as well as another member of the cast in a cumbersome outfit – dressed as Nanna the Dog. The Little Mermaid showcased superb ensemble dances with ‘Under The Sea’ being a particular favourite, plus there was a giant Ursula taking up the rink as she glided out in a clever move. Frozen remains as popular as ever, and what better show to perform on the ice than Frozen? It’s where Olaf belongs isn’t it? Even if he is still singing about ‘Summer’! Of all the tales told, I felt that the setting, scenery and stunning performances provided us with the perfect finale.

We can’t wait to return to Disney on Ice, next year and see what Mickey Mouse and his friends have in store for us. It’s such a fantastic family fun event and one of the highlights of our year.

Disney On Ice ~ Genting Arena, Birmingham

*** Birmingham Genting Arena until Sunday 10 April and touring – the tour finishes on 1 May in Glasgow ***

Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck and Goofy all arrived in Birmingham last Wednesday night and they brought their ice skates with them! Disney on Ice was back to rock the Genting Arena in Birmingham and give Disney fans of all ages a glimpse of their cartoon heroes on ice skates.

After a spectacular opening featuring characters from the Disney park ride A Small World, Mickey Mouse and friends were on hand to introduce the show to the great delight of the young patrons in the audience. The Lion King was the first film we were treated to and there were some beautiful interactions between Simba and Nala as well as comedy from Pumba and Timon. The cast of performers are exceptionally talented as they twist and turn to perfection on the ice with spot on characterisation, too.

Before the interval, Peter Pan took us on a journey to Neverland which included a glorious pirate ship steered by the dastardly Captain Hook and an inspired version of the crocodile in hot pursuit. This was the first time I had seen Peter Pan performed as part of Disney on Ice and it worked brilliantly.

The Little Mermaid was a firm favourite, with the crowd singing and clapping along to Under the Sea and some excited reactions to the appearance of Sebastian the crab. Ursula was resplendent as she arrived to stir up trouble and that cannot have been an easy costume to have skated in. The audience choice was most definitely Frozen, despite a couple of mishaps, the trip to Arendelle provoked whoops of joy from most of the little girls in the arena, many of whom were dressed as either Anna or Elsa.

Overall, a smasher of a show from the Disney on Ice team and I can’t wait for the next visit!

Information and tickets can be found by following this link: http://www.disneyonice.com/gb/en-gb/silver-anniversary-celebration

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