Review: LION KING JR at Hutt City Musical Theatre

Running 17-27 April at Epuni Hall, Lower Hutt

By: Apr. 22, 2024
Review: LION KING JR at Hutt City Musical Theatre
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Amazing talent in this youth production

The movie of the Lion King was released back in 1994. With music and lyrics by Elton John and Tim Rice, it was a huge hit and still rates highly with audiences.

It was transformed into a musical in 1997 and is the third longest running show on Broadway having grossed more than $1.9 Billion, making it the highest grossing Broadway show of all time.  The Lion King Jr show is a truncated version of the Broadway musical running just over an hour in length.  It is still quite a big scale production to put on, with a large number of costumes needed for all the various roles.

Ten minutes before the show opened, we were treated to a number of the cast sitting on the steps leading up to the stage playing African drums. You could see the delight on their faces that they were in front of an audience and being seen.

The music for the opening number boomed out loud and clear and for the most part sounded great throughout. There were a couple of mic issues the evening I attended, sounding like a loose wire that I am sure will be fixed overnight.

Flynn Bernie as Rafiki sang the opening number beautifully. He was excellent throughout the night and set the tone for the show.  The ensemble were all enthusiastic and sang and danced well.  The choreography by Molly Kelly was just right. Simple enough for the entire cast to be able to manage it, but really effective from an audience perspective.  The cast were all in synch and the movement was a real highlight throughout the show.

Sarah Lineham as the Musical Director, has obviously worked hard with her cast to have them singing in unison and in tune the entire show. Congratulations must go to her for the work that was put in.

Fynn Burns Esam as Mufasa and Jake Roberts as Scar both performed their roles well.

Freya Stinton as Young Simba and Aggie Mcleod as Young Nala were both a delight with well delivered dialogue and strong singing. 

I also really enjoyed the comic team of Addy Stone as Timon and Aidan Fitzgerald as Pumbaa. They both seemed relaxed on stage and brought a real energy to the show whenever they were on.

The clever transition from Young Simba to adult Simba (played by Devin Stinton) highlighted some of the nice directing touches of Julie Fitzgerald. This is only her second directing role and hopefully will continue with this role in the future.

Special mention must also be made of Riya Naidu who played adult Nala. Her vocals were a standout. 

The costumes were outstanding. Provided by Musical Stars and HCMT, they deserve recognition, especially the headwear the lions wore. It made a huge difference to the visual quality of the show.

As always, there are things that needed to be worked on, most notablty the speed of the delivery of dialogue, which at times was too rushed and hard to pick up. Diction also needed improvement. It is incredibly important to speak clearly.

The hyenas, lions and all ensemble deserve to be named so here goes.

Nina Unka, Kenzie Stone, Anna Henry, Sarah Fitzgerald, Scout Hunter, Aria Blake, Bronte Anstiss, Felix Butler, Harvey McLeod, Isla Paul, Kate Quinn, Lexi Waring, Aurel Ridhima, Bianca Heuser, Lucy Le Quesne, Maddison Roberts, Mischa Blake, Raphael Heuser, Ashley Jones, Cassie Treadwell, Honor Waring and Hope Wright. 

Well done to you all. 

The future of theatre in Wellington is in good hands.

  




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