Review: The Lion King musical is a brilliant show worthy of the hype

New Zealanders heading to Auckland's Spark Arena to witness The Lion King musical are in for a real treat - this is an absolutely brilliant show.

It's one of the most hyped shows in the world and now holds the record as the fastest-selling musical theatre show in Aotearoa's history.

After experiencing it for myself, I can totally understand why.

The Lion King is one of those wonderful shows where you get great singing, great dancing, great props, great stage effects - several different artforms all coming together to create one awesome experience that really makes you appreciate the medium.

When the opening 'Circle of Life' number kicks off, the spectacle is breathtaking. As African wildlife swarm through the arena, it's all a bit overwhelming.

Add in how sentimental people are about the original animated movie and it's no wonder there were many tears shed as Rafiki belted out "Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba!"

The Lion King musical in Auckland.
Photo credit: supplied

Shortly thereafter, it was delightful to hear a few surprisingly local accents mixed in with those of the global cast as the story began to unfold.

Plus, it's such a classic story - easily one of Disney's greatest.

I thought all of the actors nailed their roles in Saturday night's performance. However, special mention must go to Antony Lawrence as Scar, who cranks up the villainy to a delicious extreme.

The only thing I'd criticise about is an element of the climax. The showdown between Simba and Scar is fantastic and suitably epic, but it takes place within the wider battle against the hyenas that is less so.

Obviously that sort of thing is technically really hard to achieve on stage, but for fans of the films, it's a major element that's kind of rushed through and a little underwhelming in this musical.

The majority of the show is anything but - I sat there wide-eyed and grinning for almost the full two-and-a-half hour runtime.

Aside from the huge musical numbers, perhaps the most spectacular moment is when Simba sees Mufasa appear to him as a reflection in the water. I won't give away how it's done, but I will say it looks amazing.

It's one of the many magical moments that make this show well worth the hype.

Just prepare to be overwhelmed, and maybe bring along some tissues.

The Lion King musical in Auckland.
Photo credit: supplied