Youth Theatre’s Lion King great holiday entertainment

Author: Jen Amosa

Published: July 18th 2019

Looking for a way to warm up this Winter?  Look no further than Nelson Youth Theatre’s production of ‘The Lion King, Jr’. Watching the African savannah come to life on stage made me feel like I was soaking up the warmth of the African sun.  

This Disney Jnr musical follows lion cub Simba on his journey to adulthood and the fulfilment of his destiny as King of the Pridelands. It’s a condensed version, running just over an hour, so is great school holiday entertainment.

Director Richard Carruthers and the Nelson Youth Theatre team are to be congratulated on a visually impressive show. I can only describe the opening scene as “wow!” and the rest of the audience obviously felt the same, judging from their enthusiastic response.

The creative effort which has gone into the superb costumes and excellent stage pieces is to be commended. Much of the magic of The Lion King show for me comes from the wonderful songs by Elton John and Tim Rice and the opening night cast did themselves proud.  Both ensemble and solo performances ‘hit the right note’.

Vaughn Birss (young Simba) and Joelle Noar (young Nala) gave strong performances, as did Joel Sangster and Megan Brennan as the older versions of the characters.  Georgie Horncastle and Ella Danson as Timon and Pumba did a great job as the comic relief and my children’s favorite was baboon Refiki (Holly Cameron).  I particularly enjoyed Matthew Edgar’s deliciously devious performance as ‘Scar’, the villain of the show.

This is a show worth seeing … and don’t just take my word for it. I’ll leave the final comment to the woman I overheard behind me as the curtain came down… “that was amazing!”

The Lion King, jr – at the Theatre Royal til 20 July. Reviewed by Jen Amosa.

Review: The Lion King Jr

Author: Hugh Neill

Published: July 17th 2019

Nelson Youth Theatre’s production of The Lion King Jr, Wednesday 17 July at the Theatre Royal. Reviewed by Hugh Neill.

I have just returned home from witnessing what can only be described as a visual feast, “The Lion King.” For a tad over an hour my eyes were on stalks taking in the many amazing costumes, masks and puppets on display on stage, created by what must have been an army of dedicated volunteers.

Reading the programme there must have been a production team of over 100, a cast of 20 plus a host of lionesses, hyenas, meercats as well as specific puppets dressed as a rhinoceros, hippopotamus, giraffe and elephant, to name just a few.

The transition from one scene to the next was seamless, most impressive considering that this was the first performance of the season. The singing was strong and the choreography was simple but effective.

I really enjoyed the set pieces as well, plus the lighting. The stage was uncluttered, particularly important given the cast size and everything worked to perfection. This was true even with the sound, which can be an issue with productions on a limited budget.

I don’t want to single out any particular actor because they were all outstanding, rare for any community theatre production. This would have to be one of, if not the best Nelson Youth Theatre shows that I’ve seen so far, and, believe me, I’ve watched a few.

Finally, last but not least, a big congratulations to Richard Carruthers for his splendid direction.

Well done, one and all, you are all stars and deserve all the praise that you get. The production runs until 20 July and if you haven’t already I urge you to take the family to a show that punches well above its weight. Believe me, you won’t be disappointed.