Backstage with Disney’s The Lion King, set to be the pride of Birmingham…

Press & PR Officer, Mandy Rose ( @mandyrose1 ) reports back from rehearsals with Disney’s The Lion King…

In July I spent a very special day at the BBC rehearsal studios in Bristol;  I was there with a journalist to meet the cast of Disney’s The Lion King.  This was the first day the cast of the touring production had the chance to meet one another and I was amongst them!

One of the fantastic puppets backstage...

One of the fantastic puppets backstage…

Walking through a huge barn like building I passed dozens of backstage staff unloading  the elaborate masks, puppets, costumes and props from the production  before entering a huge room where most of the cast and creatives had gathered.

Working for Birmingham Hippodrome, especially in the PR team, I’ve been priviledged to see hundreds of theatre performances, met some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry and travelled the length of the country to see productions;  you’d think I would be numb to it all by now but far from it.  I still get excited on days like this, especially as it’s a day spent with the company of one of the most popular and successful musicals of all time.

The cast and crew gather...

The cast and crew gather…

We took to our seats (over 200 people were in the room) and immediately in walked Thomas Schumacher president of Disney Theatrical Group, the theatrical production arm of The Walt Disney Company.  He’s been with The Lion King since year one and during his career has also supervised over 20 Disney animated films!  VIP indeed!  He spoke passionately about the production, its history, design, from film to stage, before asking the cast to stand up individually and introduce themselves.   There were actors, singers and dancers from all over the world, South Africa, Nigeria, Japan, America and the UK, some who had been in the show for years, others just starting out on stage; it was indeed an international company!  I was pleased to hear some local Midlands accents there too! However, I didn’t realise he also wanted everyone else not in the cast to do the same, (now’s my big chance!) “I’m Mandy Rose, Press & PR, Birmingham Hippodrome and I look forward to welcoming you all to our home in 2013!”  Cheesy! But I did get a smile from the big man himself.

After the meet and greet the company all stood up went to the front of the hall and joy of joys all sang The Circle of Life, right there, unscripted.  What an absolute treat, I was in heaven!  The company then split into groups and went off to start day one of rehearsals.

One of the costume sketches at The Lion King exhibition...

One of the costume sketches at The Lion King exhibition…

We were ushered into a room where Tom Schumaker joined us for an interview.  I left the journalist with him and wondered around taking photographs of some of the costume designs, props and masks which you can see here.

We were then invited for a sneak peek of The Lion King exhibition in the centre of Bristol which tours with the musical – a great interactive mix of history, costumes, designs and props – what a great idea.  This will arrive in Birmingham ahead of the opening of the musical here and is a must see.

The Lion King rehearsals were well underway so we left the studios and made our way back to Birmingham – the day was a roaring success! (sorry just had to do that).

Disney’s The Lion King opens its first UK tour in Bristol before heading  to Brum for a 3 month season in 2013…see you there!

CLICK HERE for more information on The Lion King and on-sale dates.

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