Disney’s The Lion King, which has been seen by over 100 million people worldwide, has returned to Edinburgh.
Its cast are delighted to be back at the Edinburgh Playhouse after the last run at the theatre was cut short, due to the pandemic.
With a cast made up of performers from around the globe, this meant that some were forced to stay in Edinburgh for months on end before they could return home.
Now, they’re delighted to be back, none more so than Matthew Forbes, who plays cheeky bird Zazu.
“Edinburgh is honestly my favourite city in the world,” he told STV News.
“It’s so lovely to be back in Edinburgh and back at this brilliant theatre. You can feel the joy, to be able to be back in a room together and to be celebrating this wonderful story.”
For Stephenson Arden-Sodje and Nokwanda Khuzwayo, who have just joined the 20th anniversary tour as lead characters Nala and Simba, there is also great excitement about being in the “vibrant” capital, with Nokwanda admitting she can’t wait to explore the likes of the castle and Arthur’s Seat.
But, of course, they are most thrilled to be part of this extravagant, captivating production that has become the must-see-show for many.
Stephenson explained: “I first saw the show when I was ten years old and I was the age that the young Simbas are in the show and seeing the show you immediately see yourself on the stage, thinking ‘imagine doing that’.
“Now, several years later, here I am getting to play adult Simba.”
Nokwanda agreed: “Playing Nala feels like a dream come true. I feel like I’m living the dream.”
The scale of the Lion King production is far bigger than most shows, with 150 people working together both on stage and behind-the-scenes to put on the puppet filled extravaganza.
There are 232 puppets in the show, including rod, shadow and full-sized puppets portraying 25 species of animals, birds, fish and insects.
It took 37,000 hours to build the original puppets and masks. These include a 13 feet long and 9 feet wide, elephant puppet that requires four actors to carefully walk her down the orchestra aisle.
There are over 350 costumes in the show; including 22 hand-beaded corsets, each consisting of thousands of individually sewn beads.
In short – it is quite a sight to behold and the Edinburgh run is sure to be another roaring success. Disney’s The Lion King runs till July 2 at the Edinburgh Playhouse.