The Lion King, Palace Theatre, Manchester

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This is the mane attraction – whichever way you choose to spell it – as the award-winning musical sets up its kingdom, in an appropriate venue, all the way through to Easter.

So whether you choose it as a Christmas outing, or as a special treat anytime through to the spring, you’re assured of a spectacle quite unlike anything else around.

From the entrance of its full-sized elephant lumbering down through the stalls, to the standing ovation at its final curtain, this is a production that takes no prisoners and earns all of its plaudits.

Only the mighty Disney corporation could re-interpret their classic animated movie and turn it into a massive stage spectacle that still manages to play out its story on a very human scale . . . even if they are all animals.

The programme credits alone read like one of those interminable lists of cinema names at the end of a film.

Chief among them has to be its director, costume designer, mask and puppet co-creator – and provider of some incidental lyrics – American stage legend Julie Taymor, but choreographer Garth Fagan’s work is equally ground-breaking.

Mixing up so many dance and movement styles, while also staying faithful to the African vibe, gives the show so much of its dazzling effect.

Taymor’s vision for the production borrows from so many theatrical traditions, that it’s probably just as well an international cast make it all into reality.

Way down that list, but stealing a lot of the spotlight on opening night here, had to be London schoolboy Auden Barnes inhabiting the role of the lion cub Young Simba. Creating such stage presence amidst a menagerie of scene-stealing animals is testament to his skills and intensive stage drilling. Equally eye-catching was Young Nala, Donica Elliston.

Lion King roars out its appeal all the way through to April 20.

David Upton