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The Lion King: Fantasia Showstoppers - Review by Annalise Pittman

‘The Lion King’ is one of the most well-known and loved stories and has managed to cross the boundary from a famous, successful and beloved film and move onto the stage. A story being so well known can sometimes be a curse for a small production company. Still, Fantasia Showstoppers have shown time and time again that they know how to make quality theatre by kids for kids, and this production was no exception.

As director, music director and choreographer, Tyson Moon, David Cattrall and Melanie Kerr have expertly led a large group of children and young adults through not only the usual tasks of learning lines, songs and dances but also had the added difficulty of learning to sing in another language and operate puppets. This would be an arduous task for the most theatre-seasoned adult, but the cast took it in their stride and appeared to have been performing like this for years.

The production begins as expected with ‘The Circle of Life’ but not quite as expected was Ceecee Dura, who burst onto the stage as Rafiki. Her huge voice and command of the stage would place her just as naturally on the stages of Broadway. Each time she appeared on stage, the audience was on the edge of their seats, anticipating her powerful performance. The opening number perfectly set up the energy that propelled the audience through the show.

Zac Wardrop and Eva De Los Angeles, as Simba and Nala, gave tremendous performances, singing and dancing their way from the Pride Lands and into the path of the cackling hyenas. As Scar Lochlan Falzon gave a performance that managed to make the ‘bad guy’ both endearing and evil, leading to him being labelled my daughter's favourite character ‘even though he’s the bad one’. Tyrese Arriaga created a regal demeanour with his portrayal of Mufasa.

Three characters that can not be overlooked and play a huge comedic role are Timon, Pumba and Zazu, played by Kaylie Camilleri, Chantelle Tabone and Bonnie Sherriff, respectively. All three seamlessly moved their puppets around the stage, keeping the focus firmly on the characters and were the funniest characters, especially doing the hula!

Sam Wright and Chelsea Weldon, as older Simba and Nala, had dynamic performances of other well-known songs, which they performed in a way that showcased their expertise. They managed to bring both a poignant and joyful tone to their performances.

Using a minimal setting allowed the actors to move around the stage seamlessly and was an appropriate choice. The projection of scenery to place the action was well done. However, some of the transitions between projections of place could have been smoother.

The entire show was just great fun, and the only way something can be truly enjoyable is if the cast and the production team have created something of real quality, and Fantasia Showstoppers has once again done this. I give this performance 4.5/5 great kings of the past.

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