“ Lyceum, Wellington Street, London, WC2E 7DA. Tel: +44 (0)870 243 9000. Nearest tube: Covent Garden. „
This week Vicky and I made a trip into London to watch The Lion King live at the Lyceum theatre. I had been intending to see this for a long time as I had heard nothing but positive feedback and love the story of the film.
You should know the story by now. Simba is a young Lion cub whose father Muffassa rules their jungle home. Sinister uncle Scar is none too happy to meet the new heir and wants to usurp the throne himself. Before Simba can mature enough to thwart his uncle's shenanigans he must enjoy a life lesson in chilling out from the charismatic duo Timon and Pumbaa, and rediscover the hidden king inside himself.
However seeing the Lion King live at the theatre is a far grander experience than watching an animated film on the TV. The African dance choreography was already spectacular in itself, yet it's made all the more impressive by the fact that the dancers are simultaneously controlling the animal creations they wear. Each of the Lions at the centre of the story are portrayed by the actors themselves, but all other animals are brought to life by the puppetry skill of the actors inside the costumes. This ranges from something as simple as actors balancing on four stilts to play a Giraffe, to actors who must manipulate all four limbs to animate the Hyena costume that they wear. There's even time for a life sized elephant to march past you!
Leading all of these actors in song was the supremely talented Brown Lindiwe Mkhize. Her African vocals added life and vitality to the soundtrack, and enlivened the most popular Elton John songs from the film. The other actors follow her lead nicely to add real emotional resonance to the play. I would like to give particular credit to the young Melina M'poy (Young Nala) whose beautiful voice felt way ahead of her tender young age.
Sadly the same can't be said for the young Jonathan Hume whose awkward performance as the young Simba betrayed his youthful age. Thankfully he was the shows one slight ruffle. All of the other actors were fantastic; with George Asprey's sinister turn as scar being a particular highlight. Fans of the film will no doubt be pleased to hear that Damian Baldet gives a hilarious performance as Timon, and plays off very well against Keith Bookman's Pumbaa.
In conclusion, The Lion King makes for an amazing day out for all involved. The bold African song and dance numbers will keep the parents entertained, while the stunning animal costumes will keep the kids occupied. There are some stunning visual effects that keep the imagination ticking over and the story is as wonderfully told as it has ever been. A highly recommended play!
The Lion King Broadway musical tickets are sold at very low price at cheaplionkingtickets.co.uk! I have recently ordered discount Lion King tickets and i'm very happy with the great seats i got !!
ack in 1999, I visited London for the first time. On our way to the theatre to see Miss Saigon, I saw a theatre covered in banners for a new musical - The Lion King. As a fan of the Disney film, I've wanted to see the musical ever since that day. It wasn't a show my partner was keen to see, as although we share a love of musicals, it wasn't his kind of thing. But when his mother visited us recently, she said she would take me to the theatre one night. I happened to spot a poster on a passing bus for The Lion King just after she said that, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The Lion King is on at the Lyceum Theatre just off the Strand. A lovely old building, like many of London's theatres, it has columns outside and thick carpets and dark wood inside. The closest tube stations are Embankment, Temple and Covent Garden, and there are plenty of buses which go along the Strand. Charing Cross Station is also just a short walk away. Our tickets were bought just the day before, and were around £45 each, for seats in the rear stalls. Booking in advance would probably get you a better price.
Our seats were in the back row, to the left side of the stalls from our perspective looking at the stage. It appeared that the theatre was almost full, with just a few empty seats near us. This was on a weeknight in February, so it seems that The Lion King is still a very popular musical.
There is a bar just outside the entrance to the stalls, where you can purchase drinks and snacks, and also pre-order interval drinks. We bought two bottles of diet Pepsi, and while I can't remember the exact price, it was well over £5 for the two - pricey. There is also a souvenir stall beside the bar.
So, onto the show. From our seats I could see that two of the boxes beside the stage had set ups of African drums and other instruments, which was rather exciting - as a musician I've always taken an interest in what's going on in the pit, so it was interesting to see something a little different.
The opening of the show was utterly breathtaking, there is no other way to describe it. A sunrise was brought up on the back of the stage, two giraffes (actors on stilts) were slowly walking past, and the character of Rafiki the baboon began the spinetingling vocals of Circle of Life. I had goosebumps, and was so blown away I felt close to tears. I've never seen or heard anything quite like it. It's a stunning song in its recorded form, so to hear it belted out live, in perfect tune and with authentic instrumentation, was simply incredible.
But the breathtaking opening didn't stop there. The doors beside us opened, and actors started coming through. The first ones were in bright clothes, with bird on sticks which they whirled in the air. Then came the piece de resistance - an elephant, manned by four actors, one in each leg, along with a baby elephant manned by a little girl. We were gobsmacked, and felt very lucky to be so close. All the animals, even the huge elephant were so graceful. They all made their way down the aisles and gathered on the stage to finish performing Circle of Life. The centrepiece of the kingdom, Pride Rock, rose from the stage with a staircase on it for the actors to use.
The opening of the show was incredible, but the enjoyment didn't stop there. The actors were all wonderful; every single one of them made you forget you were looking at a human playing an animal, and became the animal they were portraying. Rafiki was played by a woman, who had amazing vocal talents. Her African vocals sent shivers down your spine. Zazu, the right-hand man (well, bird) of the lion king, Mufasa, was as hilarious as he is in the film: the actor playing him was dressed in black and white with a bowler hat, while Zazu was a puppet he carried - the actor was separate from the bird, but his costume and mannerisms were so appropriate to the character that I forgot I was watching a puppeteer.
Most of the animal costumes were in what you would call an African style, but the characters who were particularly comical in the film, and therefore most appealing to children, were still rather cartoonish. Zazu was one, as were the gang of hyenas: the actors playing them had the hyena swagger down to a tee. Also in this category were Timon the meerkat and Pumba the warthog. Timon was a puppet of almost human height, which was attached to the front of his actor. Pumba was a huge squashy costume, worn by an actor whose own facial expressions seemed like he could have successfully played Pumba with no costume!
Special mention should be made to the supporting cast. Many of these actors, as in most musicals, played a variety of roles, but they were always so graceful and in tune with the animal they were playing. The actor who played the cheetah was wonderfully sinuous and stalked across the stage; the gazelles (each actor carrying three) were light and graceful; the elephant was heavy and ponderous. In one scene the supporting cast played a field of savanna grass: they had hats on which supported a large flat plate of long grass. The stage was covered in people swaying like grass, with grass on their heads - quite clearly not a field of grass, but that was what we saw. They became that field.
The stand-out actor for me however was the woman who played grown-up Nala. Not only was her singing and acting excellent, but her movements were beautiful, so fluid and reminiscent of a lioness. Grown-up Simba was a close second, with a stunning voice, although I wasn't so keen on young Simba - the boy playing him was very good for his young age (maybe 10-12), but I don't think he had the maturity in his acting to fit with such an excellent company of actors. By contrast, the girl playing young Nala was very good, and is going to grow up to be a wonderful actress - she really looked like a baby lioness surrounded by grown lionesses, full of grace and elegance.
The music of the Lion King is obviously well-known already from the film. Personally I absolutely love it - the variety means there is something for everyone, from the moving and majestic Circle of Life, to the playful I Just Can't Wait To Be King, from the ominous Be Prepared to the ballad of Can You Feel The Love Tonight. There are some additions to the stage show, the most memorable of which is a song performed by the hyenas which I think is called Chow Down. Unfortunately it is memorable for the wrong reasons - it is a rock-style song, and doesn't fit with the rest of the score. It felt clunky and awkward, and although well-performed the style and tone were wrong.
The music was always perfectly performed, exactly the right volume and timing, and I really enjoyed watching the two musicians in the African boxes. It would have been impossible not to have them - the African instruments added an essential flavour to the music.
Throughout the show I found myself laughing, singing, on the edge of my seat with tension and at times close to tears. I know the story so well, yet it was like seeing it for the first time. The Lion King was absolutely superb, and if I had never seen Miss Saigon and Les Miserables, I would say it was the best musical I've ever seen. As it is it stands alongside those greats of musical theatre, holding its own, and hopefully will continue to do so for years to come.
This musical has been playing at London's Lyceum Theatre for over 10 years now and is still proving to be a roaring success. Based on the Disney classic of the same name, this has be recreated from the animation we all know and love into a breathtaking musical which will leave you amazed by amazing costumes, puppetry, songs and staging.
This is one for all the family, young and old will be amazed by what is going on stage and around them in the main theatre. If you can get seats in the stall and near a central aisle for a show you won't forget.
The story is a tale of a young lion cub, Simba , and his eventual rise to be King of the Pridelands. We are taken on the journey with classic songs as, "I just can't wait to be king" and "hakuna matata", as well as some original songs written for the musical including some lovely African inspired ones. The staging is fantastic and the animals are brought to life through some amazing costumes and puppets that are so effective you forget that there is a human inside them or operating them.
Simba's journey to Kinghood is not an easy one and if you throw in a jealous uncle, a pack of evil hyenas and the unlikely hero's in the shape of a wart hog and a meerkat you are in for a story which will have you laughing and crying and laughing again. It's a must see!
The show is around 3hrs long with a 20min interval. Closest tube is Covent Garden and mainline train is Charring Cross.
When I looked on web sites for theatre trips (as I'm a drama student and theatre is my life!) - I always saw 'The lion king' being one of the best broadway shows, however I was always worried that the target audience was for kids, and the tickets being very expensive (between 50 - 60 pounds, sometimes more depending if you buy from a web site or the box office) But when it came to my 18th birthday my aunt and uncle bought me a ticket to go and see the show on 13th January 2010. When I told my cousin I got a ticket to go and see it - she went to see it as well for her 18th and she loved it and even cried in the show! as she is a huge fan of disney films. (especially ones in the 90s)
January 13th - the day finally arrived and I was so excited and couldn't sleep the night before (Like a kid getting over excited on christmas eve)
The show began at 2:15, the show is located at the lyceum theatre, Wellington square (quite near Covent Garden and Leicester square)
The theatre is probably one of the most beautiful theatre i've seen! The interior of the theatre was red and plated with gold (me and my cousin tried to take some pictures of the theatre as it looked so amazing!) But we didn't have enough time as the show was about to begin....
Already it had the most incredible opening...with animals walking onto the stage and an elephant even walked through the audience (it was very realistic as the actors/puppeters walked exactly like animals)
The set was done in most the unique way ever, instead of having set moved around, (like most performances you see) they had the actors to become the set (e.g. to become grass!)
The actors all did an incredible jobs at their parts, big, medium, small, cameo. The actor who played Zazu actually sounded like Rowan Atkinson (who was the voice of Zazu in the film version!)
The make-up was done beautifully and must have taken hours to do!
The soundtrack was one of the best things and probably the best broadway soundtrack sung beautifully with strong, powerful words and emotion (all actors did this brilliantly) All songs were done by Elton John and Tim Rice
the songs are:
the circle of life
Can you feel the love tonight?
I just can't wait to be king
The Lioness hunt
The morning report
they live in you
The stampede/ Rafiki Mourns
One by one
The madness of King Scar
He lives in you (re-prise)
Simba confronts Scar
King of pride rock/circle of life
Overall, my experience was not what I expected! As I thought this was going to be for kids and it wouldn't be as good, but when I left the theatre I was blown away by the performance and it was a brilliant day and I would defo go and see this again! I recommend this show to anyone.No matter how old or young you are this will be a theatre experience you'll always remember!
So if you love going to the theatre, a drama student or don't know what broadway show to go and see. This show is a must-see before you die! Words cannot describe how amazing this show is! The cost of tickets are expensive..but it's money well worth spending!
5 out of 5 stars. But if there were 10 I would give it 10!
The Lion King is without doubt the best West End Musical production I've seen. I'd strongly recommend it to any families looking for a great day out because children will love it and not only because its based on the classic film but because they'll be blown away by the theatrical spectacle in front of them. Thats not to say that its not a great choice for adults too. Seeing the Lion King is a wonderful experience for anyone because of its top class actors, songs and sets. I'd like to draw particular attention to the costumes which are some of the most impressive and inventive designs you'll ever see on stage. All of the animals are beautifully presented on stage and you'll feel immersed in the setting from the opening number.
I will say that since the Lion King is so popular, its more difficult to find some of the deals available for other West End Shows. The best seats are particularly expensive and tickets often sell out so I'd recommend booking in advance. Having said that, I think that the Lion King is completely worth the ticket prices and if you're worried about costs, there's nothing wrong with taking a cheaper seat because theres no real bad view of the stage and the play is so brightly designed that you'll still get most of the impact from a back seat. I've even seen the play standing right at the back and even though my legs hurt from standing, it was still a great experience.
As a child this was one of my favourite Disney films so seeing it come alive on stage was an jaw dropping experience for me. From the first note to the last it was like i had been transported into a dream. The show is nothing short of spectacular. It's so hard not to like this even if musicals aren't really your thing because you develop this huge appreciation for what they do. The set and the costumes are so clever and intricate. You might wonder how they can turn a cartoon where pretty much anything can be animated gets turned into a stage performance but they do it in such a clever and imaginative way.
The story behind it all is based on Hamlet and it is a moving, funny and heart warming tale of friendship, leadership, sacrifice and the difficult task of growing up. The performers show an incredible array of skills from singing to acting to dance to puppetry. Everyone is outstanding and the band also do an incredible job. The story really comes alive on stage and you feel like you have been transported to the African savanna. The songs are powerful, enchanting and fun and will leave you humming it all the way home.
A stage performer is doubtless expected to be pretty versatile, and to be able to inhabit a variety of roles - nonetheless, the challenge facing the producers of the Lion King musical - of bringing the whole of the African Savannah convincingly to the stage - must have been a daunting one. If the prospect of bringing together a cast of anthropomorphic Lions, Hyenas, Elephants, Giraffes and the like is one you struggle to visualise, you should try to avoid seeing anything of the show before going, as the first scene is a spectacle like little else in theatre.
To the famous strains of The Circle of Life, the potential of the set design is immediately realised as a half-moon panel in the floor slides open and, with the centre of the stage rotating, Pride Rock rises up until it stands tall over the gathering creatures below. Each new arrival seems more impressive and creatively designed than the last, from the soaring birds swooping low over the audience in the stalls and the multitudes of gazelle, through to the elephant that arrives (it would spoil the surprise to reveal how) to the kind of cacophonous applause that normally meets the climax of a show. The audience on their feet, clapping and whooping filling the theatre - and this only a couple of minutes in.
* * *
* * *
The stage adaption is a largely very faithful adaptation of the Oscar-winning Disney animation, featuring the same characters, songs and plot. The particular idiosyncrasies and styles of the original actors are also carried through here; the performer playing Zazu sounds very much like Rowan Atkinson, stage-Scar does a more than passable Jeremy Irons, and so forth. There are a couple of additional scenes and a handful of extra songs that do not feature in the film, but for the most part, this is a smooth transition from screen to stage.
The Lion King, of course, is a Hamlet-esque tale of destiny and redemption, in which Simba, a young lion born into power and privilege must come to terms with the responsibility that comes with his position in the aftermath of a tragedy which tears his family apart. Of course, being Disney, it's a lot more light-hearted than that - our protagonist's path is lined with larger-than-life characters and ridiculously catchy songs. There were also signs of the dual-focus humour - jokes that make both children and adults laugh, sometimes for different reasons - which have since become commonplace in animations. This is expanded on a little in the stage version, capitalising on the chance to play off a live audience.
* * *
* * *
The Lyceum Theatre, home of the show since its opening in 1999, is an impressive, comfortable venue in which to take in the spectacle of the Lion King. The audience is split between the stalls and the grand circle (plus a few boxes), with each having its advantages. Sitting at the lower level, the audience are more involved in the show; on occasions the creatures interact a little with the crowd, or enter from unexpected positions. From the higher viewpoint, however, one gets a fantastic view of the stage, and a better impression of the ingenuity of the set design, able to see each and every part working in unison.
This is an enormously impressive aspect of the show; looking at the bare stage, one would not expect it to be capable of hiding so many platforms, sliding sections and openings. Even were you made aware in advance of the existence of each part, it is unlikely you'd anticipate how skilfully they'd be utilised to bring the rich locations of the Savannah to life. Having seen the film, one might wonder how some scenes could possibly be brought to the stage - the stampede in the gorge being perhaps the best example of this - and it's a joy and a marvel to see the production pull off these feats.
* * *
Verses and Visuals
* * *
As impressive as the set is, it's the cast, in their various animal-guises, that make the first and the greatest impact. The challenge of bringing the creatures convincingly to the stage is met via a combination of life-sized puppets, shadow-puppetry, computer animation and some wonderful costumes which incorporate the actor into the animal.
Much of the pleasure is in seeing the performer for the first time, trying to work out where human ends and animal begins, so I'll give only the one illustration. Pumba, the warthog, is one of the most impressive creations, with the actor standing inside the animal, just behind the head, so that his legs are Pumba's front legs, his arms controlling the head and tongue; the creature's rear dangling behind.
Alongside the look of the costumes, there are also some neat touches that enable the actor to capture the "feel" and nature of the animal they are portraying. Scar, for example, a weak, rather piteous figure - born, he says, with the brain not the brawn of the family - is equipped with a hinged head that can be lowered to give a slumped, cowering posture, conveying something of the character's personality.
Musically, it probably isn't a surprise that the show is exemplary; the well-known songs are done considerable justice here, with spot-on vocals and some clever choreography combining to great effect. The young actor portraying Simba as a cub turns in a particularly exuberant, uplifting performance in I Just Can't Wait to be King - a song which, realised on stage, departs slightly from its film-roots in terms of visual interpretation, and does so for the better.
* * *
* * *
As much as the songs are a great strength of The Lion King, the only real weaknesses of the production are the new efforts. A combination of new material and Elton John/Tim Rice numbers that didn't make the cut for the film, they almost uniformly lack the magic and energy of original songs, and don't fit nearly as neatly into events. Where the classic songs seem to complement the action, and feel like a logical progression of the story, most of the new numbers fit in rather awkwardly, and seem to serve limited function but to extend the show's running time.
This is true not only of the new songs. There are also several scenes added in which contribute little more - as with the musical introductions, there's nothing especially wrong with any of them, but they have been inserted a little crudely, and don't flow quite as smoothly as those parts familiar from the film.
These are though, only very minor quibbles - even those bits that could be construed as negatives here are only so by comparison with the wondrous heights the show otherwise reaches. One of the best films of the 90s has become of the most outstanding stage productions of the following decade; visually astounding and extravagant, musically joyous and quite brilliant, The Lion King should appeal to all; if you love the film, you'll delight in seeing it realised on stage - if you weren't touched by the original, you'll nonetheless be enthralled by an outstanding standalone musical. Ten years after opening, The Lion King is likely to reign for some time yet.
* * *
* * *
Prices range from £30-£60, with cheaper and more expensive seats available in both the Stalls and the Grand Circle. Matinee shows are held on Saturdays at 14:00.
I accompanied a gang of relatives to see this - I must say, under duress, because I really didn't want to go. There had been some unpleasantness over their unilateral purchasing of some - to my mind - rather overly expensive tickets via the internet - the price of each being more than double what we'd initially agreed we were all willing to spend; this in spite of our already having purchased a bunch of non-refundable tickets for the group upstairs in the balcony, at the previously agreed price of £25 per head.
This palaver - not to mention the six, useless ticket we found ourselves landed with, left me with something of a bad taste in the mouth from the outset. My main purpose in going on the day at all was to ensure that my three-year-old sprog didn't end up under the wheels of a double-decker bus during the group jaunt from Gloucestershire to London; I could see the various (some elderley, some Scottish) relatives being so confounded by the traffic and excitement of being in our nation's capital that without someone to keep a designated sharp-eye out, the day trip was bound to end in tragedy.
It didn't of course, and I was so very, very impressed by 'The Lion King' stage show that I have to say it's about the best musical production I've ever seen - and I have been dragged, by these same relatives to see all sorts of shows in the West End over the years, Andrew Lloyd Webber / Bollywood musicals, 'the King & I' etc. etc. etc.
The 'Lion King' stage show follows exactly the same story as you see in the Disney film. How on earth they would manage to transfer some of the trickier African wildlife scenes to the stage was something I'd wondered about, but in fact the props and sets used were all so ingenious and cleverly thought-out throughout - that it seemed that the tricker the sequence, the more successful was its transfer to live action - this reached its heights during arguably, the most difficult-to-show-on-stage sequence of all - the 'Wildebeest stampede.'
The design of the costumes and the masks used to convey the different animals was really impressive - there were some stunningly beautiful effects (in terms of acting as well as props) used in depicting the background creatures - e.g. the cheetahs and gazelles. The cast (during our matinee showing) were all excellent, with the young actors who played young Simba and Nala (the lion cubs) deserving a special mention for their enthusiasm and skill. The venue (the Lyceum Theatre) is an atmospheric olde-worlde-looking decorated and fitted place; not a huge venue but exactly right for this type of production.
Despite a running time of approx 2 hours (including intermission) our three year old - and her ten year old cousin - were entranced throughout. They could both see quite well from our (better that the balcony option) seats down near the middle / back in the stalls. The play (the first one the young 'un's been to) really held their attention, and despite my initial curmudgeonly misgivings, what can I say - the day trip was a great success.
The majority of people these days have seen the film, or at least heard the songs. However the musical, with out a doubt, is better than the film. I found it utterly breathtaking from start to finish.
The musical starts with the song 'a circle of life' which captivates the audience. The whole array of animals make there way on stage, either through the crowd its self or from the back untill the stage is packed. This sets the scene for the whole show, as the audience is captivated and never looses the interaction with the actors.
Through out the musical i found the singing and music to be all of the highest calibre, with the charcter of simba having an amazingly strong voice, strong enough to carry the show him self, but he doesn't need to because everyone that sings, sings well and portrays the emotion well.
Like with the film there is a comedy element to the show, and this is brought out really well by the characters nazu and timone respectively. They are both helped by their costumes, however it's the actors them selves that really establish the character and make the role their own.
One of the main themes through the show was the sheer confidence of the actors, they all knew their role and each played it to perfection, there were no occasional hiccups or mistakes at all as far as i could tell, and if there was nobody realized.
All in all the show was a breathtaking event that made the hairs on my neck stand on end. I would recommend it to anyone, disney fan or not due to the sheer enormity of quality of acting,singing, dance and music. Perfect for people of all ages, although younger children may struggle to sit still.
the lion king well what more does one really have to say but fantastic. This is one of my favorite musicals and the london cast does this musical so well. From the first note , i was taken back to the diseny film which i thought was fantastic back when it came out. i especailly enjoyed the full cast numbers and i felt that the cast really got into the performance and made it engaging and believable. The music is truely exellent and i cant stop humming it wherever i go (does get rather annoying after a while but you have got to love it). For me, this musical is not as good as some others such as wicked, les miserables and the phantom of the opera which are my all time faves. however it is really high up there on my list of other musicals which really floated my boat.
I saw the Lion King at the Lyceum theatre in London (near Covent Garden station) in February of 2009. I had always wanted to see the Lion King but it always appeared to be too expensive. I was on lastminute.com where i found tickets for a Thursdau evening for only £20, as soon as i saw this i bought two!
The Theatre itself was fairly easy to find however it may be more diffecult by those who do not know Covent Garden well. On arriving in the Theatre there was an orange theme which was a nice Mise-en-scene toward the African theme. Luckily we were sat in the stall in very good seats which was an absolute bargain for only twenty pounds.
The first song of teh show was The Circle of Life, the widely known Elton John hit, performed magically by all the great performers. What was extra special about the opening was the different animals walking through the stall and onto the stage. This made me feel like i was a child again, and my heart was racing with excitement, it was just like the first time you saw The Lion King when you were younger. All the songs from the film were featured in the stage show, and were sang and performed extremely well. The characters of Timone and Pumba were Hillarious, as was Rafiki!
All the actors were brilliant, there were no slip ups, or falls and you could see the emotion on their faces which is not always evident when watching a play or musical.
I would deeply recommend this musical to children, adults, even grand parents. It is beautifully adapted for the stage, the msuic, and performing are all Fantastic, it really was the greatest show i have ever seen.
Having seen this wonderful show there is only one way to describe it - Breathtakingly brilliant.
The show is pretty much similar to the disney film, so anyone who has seen that will know the story, but the manner in which it is told is simply outstanding.
Firstly, the performances where brilliant! You could not take your eyes off the actors as they bounced around the stage with a magical energy. The children playing young Simba and Nala were brilliant and their singing beautiful. The rest of the cast were equally as impressive, most notabley Scar, who gave a frighteningly memorable performance.
The set was also exquisite - the stampede was one of my favourite parts of the whole show, and was quite ingeneous. Pride Rock, the waterfall and the jungle were all so impressive, you never knew where to look next.
However, in my opinion, the most impressive aspect of this production are the costumes. From the very first moment you are blown away by the brilliance and exquisite nature of the garments and outfits the actors wear. My favourite part of the whole show was when the team dressed as an elephant walked down the isle between the seats - it is the most impressive thing you will see in the theatre. Scar's costume was also excellent and well worth going to see the show for.
This show is funny, touching, scary and so incredibley entertaining that I encourage anyone with the means to do so, to run out and see it immediately! Without a doubt the finest production I have ever had the pleasure of seeing.
"We settled down. The lights in the theatre drop, anticipation begins to raise within me "Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba", the hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention. My heart rate starts to intensify. I'm becoming excited like a young boy again. "Nants ingonyama bagithi baba,Sithi uhhmm ingonyama, Ingonyama" Rafiki belts out to the packed Lyceum. I can't believe I am here, sat in a packed on Lyceum on a Saturday night in December, watching my favourite Disney movie on stage live."
I was approaching my first anniversary with my wonderful Girlfriend and was looking for something romantic to treat her too. She'd given me such a great year and this was my change to give her something back. I thought about the obvious; weekends to Paris or Rome, a Candlelit dinner at a nice restaurant you get the idea. These ideas whilst good and perfectly good surprises for your girlfriend on your first anniversary didn't have that spark that made me think yes this will be a good idea. It was then in a conversation with a family member that I became aware of show and stay.
A quick Google search later and I was on Show and stays website. Show and stay offer packages of Hotels and West end shows. You pick the show then pick the theatre and can add in any extras you want to add such as trips on the London Eye, Tickets to museums etc. The tickets often work out much cheaper than booking say a hotel and a theatre show separately.
I hatched a plan to surprise my girlfriend, to drag her to the railway station on the premise that we were going somewhere secret for our anniversary. I'd then lead her to out hotel (Crowne Plaza London City) and surprise her with the tickets.
All I had to do now was pick the show. The show had to have a wow factor, had to be impressive and had to be something a little bit different. I had heard about the Lion King musical from family members who had been to see it. They had all been full of praise for the musical, the songs, the set design, the acting, and the overall feel of the immense scale of the production. At the time I hadn't given too much thought to ever going to see it. Whilst I am a Disney fan and enjoy the movies I wouldn't say I was a hardcore fan. I don't know all the words to the songs and I don't get excited from singing along to the movies unlike the people who I was getting these rave reviews from. I was unsure if I ever went to see it, that I would be as captivated as they had been. However this wasn't all about me. My Girlfriend is a big Disney fan, is someone who would sing along to the words. I was sold.
I booked the tickets for a Saturday night showing and got tickets at the back of the stalls on the right hand side of the theatre. In total the theatre tickets and a night in the Crowne Plaza worked out at £149 each. I thought this was very reasonable. I believe if you were to book online through Ticketmaster or a similar service, tickets to the show alone will set you back between £25 - 340 excluding booking fees and postage.
The lyceum is a very accessible theatre. Located on the Strand it is a short walk from Charing Cross or Covent Garden tube stations. You can't miss the Lyceum as you walk through the west end. It is a large theatre with big towering Roman columns and lit up from spot lights on the ground. Large banners advertising the Lion King Show drape down the sides of the theatre.
As you enter, everything is well presented and decorated. It is clean and the staff are friendly. We ordered a drink at the bar and then reserved drinks for the intermission. The bill almost came to the price of a ticket to the show! With a hole in my bank balance and a Carlsberg that would be finished in a few mouthfuls we took our seats.
As mentioned earlier our seats were at the back of the stalls and to the right. I can't remember the exact seats but from where we were back here we still had an excellent unobstructed view to the stage. I was impressed as I had been slightly pessimistic about being able to see the whole show. Leg room isn't a premium in the Lyceum but when is it ever at a theatre?
We settled down. The lights in the theatre drop, anticipation begins to raise within me "Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba", the hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention. My heart rate starts to intensify. I'm becoming excited like a young boy again. "Nants ingonyama bagithi baba,Sithi uhhmm ingonyama, Ingonyama" Rafiki belts out to the packed Lyceum. I can't believe I am here, sat in a packed on Lyceum on a Saturday night in December, watching my favourite Disney movie on stage live.
Oh.My.God. The introduction to this production and the circle of life song easily repay the cost of the tickets. I am left with my jaw firmly on the surprisingly clean floor of the lyceum. My eyes open as wide as they can go taking in everything I am seeing.
As Rafiki and the ensemble sing Circle of life, a giant pride rock circles out from under the stage, as animals of all size and type come onto the stage from all directions. Gazelles move majestically dancing onto set, tropical birds fly over head, a leopard moves gracefully and elegantly onto the stage. Then a life-size elephant comes marching down the aisle next to me followed by more animals. Huge giraffes accompany the ensemble of animals as pride rock nearly reaches its full size. In the background the sun climbs higher and higher. Finally pride rock stops its ascent and Mufasa accompanied by Sarabi climb it to it's pinnacle. Their joined by rafiki they raise the baby Simba to the animal kingdom.
A Huge roar engulfs the theatre. This isn't the roar of a lion or some other wild beast. This is the cheers, the applause from the mere humans sat here watching this spectacle. I am deafened by the sound of clapping and cheering, whistling and whooping. Not one member of the theatre is disappointed, we have all had value for money and we are only five minutes into this show!
I don't think I need to go into too much detail about the plot but incase you haven't seen or heard of the Lion King (Have you lived your life under a rock) I shall give a quick overview.
The Lion King is set in the pride Lands of Africa. The "Lion King" Mufasa rules over all the animals in his kingdom. Mufasa and his wife Sarabi give birth to a baby boy called Simba. Simba is shown off to the kingdom and anointed by Rafiki. The story follows Simba in the early stages of his life. He is a active young cub, keen to learn the ways of the world he has been brought up in, but also keen to break rules for fun. Simba is taken advantage of by Scar, his uncle, who tells him of an elephant grave yard. Scar is angered by Simbas arrival as it will mean he will no longer take the thrown should Mufasa die and join the circle of life. Scar hatches a plan to lure Simba to the graveyard where he will be ambushed by Hyenas.
Simba has been barred from ever going to the graveyard by Mufasa but his inquisitive nature sees him hatch a plot to ditch his babysitter Zazu with the help of his best friend Nala. Once in the graveyard the clubs are confronted and threatened by the evil Hyenas Shenzi, Banzai and Ed. Their lives are saved... just by Mufasa who rescues the young cubs.
Annoyed that he is still not heir to the thrown, Scar joins forces with the Hyenas, promising them all the animals they want to eat should he become king. Intent on regicide Scar lures samba into a gorge, whilst the Hyenas scare a herd of wildebeest. A stampede happens and Simbas life is once again saved by Mufasa. Left clinging to the gorges side, fearing for his life Mufasa begs his brother to help him, however Scar flings the king to his death.
Simba, having witnessed the death of his father is persuaded he is responsible by Scar. Simba flees the pride lands chased by the Hyenas. Simba escapes through a thorn patch and runs away into the distance. Scar returns to the pride with the sad news and takes over as King of the prides. A new era dawns, one in which lion and Hyena come together.
Meanwhile the exhausted Simba is found by Timon and Pumbaa who adopt and raise Simba. Simba is raised on a diet of bugs (And still manages to grow big and strong) and Hakuna Matata and is eventually found by Nala who informs Simba of the devastation caused by Scars rule of the pride lands. Simba though, blaming himself for the death of his father refuses to return to the pride lands.
It taks some persuasion from Rafiki and a ghostly message from his father for Simba to finally return to the pride. A fight ensues between Scar and Simba ending in Simba clinging onto pride rock for his life. Scar reveals the truth about his father's death and Simba jumps to safety and forces scar to reveal the truth.
Scar blames everything on his Hyena friends and is kicked from the cliff, where he survives the fall but is surrounded by the hyenas that attack Scar. In true Disney fashion the story ends happily. The circle of life continues with the birth of Simba and Nalas newborn cub.
The musical follows the plot of the movie closely but does also feature some exclusive scenes that keep the story fresh and that something different to the production. The new scenes aren't just filler scenes to make the show longer, they really do add something to the story.
The movie is famous for its score wrote by Tim Rice and Elton john and the musical is no different. All of the famous songs are here, updated and brought alive on stage, as well as some songs wrote particularly for the musical. Like the new scenes the new songs add depth and dimension to the show, making it not just a carbon copy of the movie, but an update and differentiation.
What really makes this show breathtakingly spectacular is the set design, costumes and puppetry. I am still amazed whenever I look at photos at the attention of detail to the costumes. So much work has been done to make the humans look like animals. The puppetry as well is incredible. I still can't figure out how they make the heads move as they do.
The sets look like they have been painstakingly developed to include all the beauty and magic of Africa. When Pride rock rises from the stage in the opening scene you know you're in for a treat. I wondered at the start of the show how they might do scenes like the stampede to good effect and I was amazed to find out. The imagination and work that has gone into this show is staggering. My favourite part was the Mufassa ghost scene, something that truly has to be scene to believe.
By the end of the show I was truly breathtaking. This was the best show I had ever seen, and truly awarding of the standing ovation that it received. Everything about it, the cast, the songs, the sets and the costumes brought the spirit and magic you expect from Disney to the stage. I had heard it was good but I never anticipated it would be this good.
The only downside of the whole evening was that when you reserve drinks for the intermission they are just left with the receipt at the back of the bar. Our drinks were unfortunately stolen. Next to where the barman showed us he had left our Rose and bottle of lager, was a couple sat drinking a rose and bottle of lager... Fortunately the barman was friendly and helpful and served us some fresh drinks. It's just unfortunate there are some dishonest people around.
I really cannot stress this enough. If you see a show this year, make sure it is the Lion King. Boys, girls, Men, Women, Grans , Grandads - it's for all the family, for all ages, I doubt anyone will leave the theatre wishing they had gone to see something different.
Thank you for reading.