Netherlee Primary already has an outstanding reputation for music and drama, but this year’s production might be their most impressive achievement yet.
Against a beautifully evocative Savannah set hand-painted by P6 and P7 pupils, the show kicks off with a joyful whoop from mandrill Rafiki and maintains its intoxicating joie de vivre throughout.
A star is born in 10-year- old Emily Johnston; as the wise and lively Rafiki she’s a knockout.
The quality of singing and dancing from the chorus and backing troops, as well as lead actors, including songbird Emma Keith and the charismatic Ella Teuton, is just superb.
There is also great imagination at work, in the unusual use of backlit shadow screens and some fabulously quirky costumes, such as the huge toy hornbill which sits permanently on Zazu’s head.
The rich atmosphere is augmented by a live musical soundtrack, again performed by pupils.
Effective heartstring-tugging from the melancholy Simba – played as a soulful young innocent by Leo Storey, then a bolder, wiser adult by Calvin Drouet – is nicely balanced by some real laughs.
Johnny McNamee and Skye Moulson make a hilarious double act, playing quirky wise-guy Timon and his amiable sidekick Pumbaa like Groucho and Chico Marx.
The girl-powered hyena gang – Lauren Selbie, Imogen Maher, Katie Needleman and Aneesah Iqbal – are feisty and streetsmart.
Months of rehearsals have paid off handsomely. Someone get Simon Cowell on the blower – Netherlee Primary definitely has talent.