IN the ice-cold midwinter there was only one sensible answer - head for South Africa and the sunlit planes of the Serengeti.
The Lion King on stageThe Lion King on stage
The Lion King on stage

OK, the journey was a chaotic traffic-jam but seeing The Lion King at Manchester Palace was an ideal, if temporary, break from the freezing scene.

True, snow was forecast, but nothing could stop this critic from struggling into the city’s icy grip.

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This terrific theatrical presentation now plays all over the world, and on its return visit to Manchester, it is being greeted with full houses and effervescent enthusiasm.

With iconic music by Elton John and Tim Rice, The Lion King follows the circle life in the heat of the Savannah where the Lion King Musafa and his queen introduce their newborn son Simba.

Waiting to destroy everything within his paw-reach is Scar.

Scar – equal to a panto’s wicked queen – wants to be head of the pride. But that little lion stands in his way.

This is a show packed with emotion and there’s a sense of wonderment as the stage fills with every type of wild animal questing for life under that baking son.

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Delight begins before the lights fade when a life-sized paper elephant makes its way down the stalls isle and lumbers on stage to wild applause.

The Lion King on stage is a totally absorbing experience. See it once or see it half a dozen times and it retains a unique the magic ability to thrill and re-thrill, as the lions, dropped-jaw hyenas, and dozens of leaping gazelles transform the stage into a wild-life extravaganza.

The absorbing action never stops and the two dozen scene-setting musical numbers include Circle of Life and Can You Feel the Love tonight?

Lion King is on at Manchster Palace Theatre until 22nd February.

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