GOING to the theatre is always exciting but the atmosphere in the auditorium ahead of the Disney musical The Lion King was almost at fever pitch.

This was partly due to the “lock down” that happens ten minutes before the show starts and the frantic efforts of the front of house staff to get everyone sitting down with their bags under their seats – almost like being aboard an aeroplane.

The reason for this fevered excitement soon becomes clear.

A veritable zoo of singing, dancing animals made their way down the aisles to the soaring sounds of the show’s opening number Circle of Life.

“Look a rhino is coming,” gasped my seven-year-old in awe, while my youngest son was left speechless by the majestic elephant.

After such an incredible opening you would think it would be hard to keep up the tempo but this show is mesmerising from start to finish.

Well-known songs from the popular Disney film are blended with the sounds of Africa and there is always something wonderful happening on stage to accompany them. The superb choreography does justice to the grace of the savannah animals, and the costumes, masks, puppets, lighting effects and projections make the entire show a multi sensory delight.

Stephen Carlile makes a menacing Scar, while Cleveland Cathnott is regal as Mufasa and the children particularly adored John Hasler as Timon and Lee Ormsby as the fragrant Pumbaa.

The script is very faithful to the film, with some beautifully sung additional numbers and the greedy hyena’s Chow Down dance, which is great fun.

And it will be hard to forget the soaring birds that fill the theatre or the moving sky full of stars that guide young Simba on his way.

The Mayflower, Southampton

In a show that is so packed with excitement, visual treats and musical excellence there are so many highlights and this really is the king of musicals.

The Lion King is at the Mayflower Theatre until Saturday, September 6.

For tickets call the box office 02380 711811 or visit mayflower.org.uk.