Photo credit: The Lion King (Photo courtesy of Disney Theatricals)

Everything you need to know about ‘The Lion King’ in London

From where to get The Lion King tickets, to the history of the Disney musical in London, here's your guide to The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre.

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

You've seen the original The Lion King animated movie. You've probably watched the live action adaptation of The Lion King too. But, have you seen the stage production? The Lion King tells of Simba's lifechanging journey to become King of the Pridelands, following in his father's footsteps, and transports audiences to the Serengeti via the Lyceum Theatre,

A masterclass in modern musical storytelling, The Lion King has earned a reputation as one of the greatest musicals of all time. In fact, London audiences have been a part of the "Circle of Life" for over 20 years, and it's showing no signs of stopping any time soon. Here's our complete guide to the West End production of The Lion King.

Book The Lion King tickets on London Theatre.

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What is The Lion King about?

At the start of the musical, Rafiki sets the scene, a wise creature who sets up the lives of animals in the African Pridelands. In the Serengeti plains, a lion cub named Simba is announced as the heir to Pride Rock, instead of his uncle Scar. Annoyed by his lineage, Scar plots to avenge Mufasa and Simba, and a battle for kingdom ruling ensues.

Journeying through the Pridelands, Simba has to grow up fast. He's not alone too, as he's joined by Timon and Pumbaa, as well as lioness Nala. Can Simba face his destiny? Will he become the king?

When did The Lion King premiere?

The Lion King premiered at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota on 8 July 1997. After this limited engagement, The Lion King then took Broadway by storm, with performances at the New Amsterdam Theatre from 15 Oct. 1997. After 10 years, The Lion King transferred to the Minskoff Theatre, opening (again) on 13 June 2006.

The Lion King premiered at the Lyceum Theatre on 19 October 1999, making it one of the final West End shows to open in the twentieth century. Since the Broadway premiere, productions of The Lion King have now opened on every continent apart from Antarctica.

The Lion King - 750 - LT

Who wrote The Lion King?

The Lion King features a storyline by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi, who also co-wrote the original 1994 film. Roger Allers also directed the first The Lion King movie, but has also worked on storylines for Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Emperor's New Groove. Mecchi's Disney screenwriting credits include Hercules, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Brave.

Who wrote the songs in The Lion King?

The Lion King features music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice. One of Britain's most popular singer of all time, Elton John is a five time Grammy Award-winning artist behind tracks including "Candle in the Wind" and "Crocodile Rock". As well as The Lion King, Elton John also composed music for Billy Elliot and Aida. Find out more about Elton John musicals.

Usually collaborating with Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice's lyricist credits include Evita and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. More recently, he's worked on From Here to Eternity, and the Disney adaptation of Aladdin.

Who is in The Lion King West End cast?

Owen Chaponda plays Simba, alongside Merryl Ansah as Nala from Janique Charles, George Asprey as Scar, Jorell Coiffic-Kamall as Banzai, Rhiane Drummond as Shenzi, Shaun Escoffery as Mufasa, Gary Jordan as Zazu, Jamie McGregor as Timon, Thenjiwe Thendiva Nofemele as Rafiki, Mark Roper as Pumbaa, and Mark Tatham as Ed.

Gibsa Bah, Shaquille Brush, Stedroy Cabey, Nikki Cheung, Kat Collings, Marlee Jay, Tomas Larraguivel, Gennaro Maffettone, Lanya Matthews, Daniel Mejia, Sipho Mlombile, Ntethelelo Nhlapo, Dillan Hope Suttle and Francesca Thompson complete The Lion King cast.

What theatre in London is The Lion King playing at?

The Lion King is at the Lyceum Theatre. The Lyceum Theatre opened in its current form in 1904, but in Victorian times, Charles Dickens would often appear in shows. Previous shows at the Lyceum Theatre include Oklahoma! and Jesus Christ Superstar.

What is the running time of The Lion King?

The running time of The Lion King is 2 hours and 30 minutes, including 1 15 minute interval.

What are the songs in The Lion King?

As The Lion King is one of the most popular musicals of all time, you'll recognise a lot of songs from the show. Look forward to Timon and Pumbaa in the life-affirming song "Hakuna Matata", Nala's gorgeous singing in "Shadowland" or the tearjerking "Can You Feel The Love Tonight." Here's all the songs in The Lion King.

Act 1

"Circle of Life" - Rafiki and Company
"Grasslands Chant" - Company
"The Lioness Hunt" - Lionesses
" I Just Can't Wait to be King" - Young Simba, Young Nala, Zazu, and Ensemble
"Chow Down" - Shenzi, Banzai and Ed
"They Live in You" - Mufasa and Company
"Be Prepared" - Scar, Shenzi, Banzai, Ed, and Company
"The Stampede" - Company
"Rafiki Mourns" - Rafiki, Sarabi, Young Nala, Ensemble
"Hakuna Matata" - Timon, Pumbaa, Young Simba, Simba, and Ensemble

Act 2

"One by One" - Company
"The Madness of King Scar" - Scar, Zazu, Banzai, Shenzi, Ed and Nala
"Shadowland" - Nala and Company
"Endless Night" - Simba and Company
"Can You Feel the Love Tonight" - Timon, Pumbaa, Simba, Nala, and Company
"He Lives in You (Reprise) - Rafiki, Simba and Company
"Simba Confronts Scar"
"King of Pride Rock/Circle of Life (Reprise) - Company

What awards has The Lion King won?

As The Lion King first premiered in London over two decades ago, award categories were different to today. Nonetheless, The Lion King still roared over other shows, picking up awards.

Olivier Awards

Best Theatre Choreographer - Garth Fagan
Best Costume Design - Julie Taymor

Tony Awards

Best Musical
Best Direction of a Musical - Julie Taymor
Best Choreography - Garth Fagan
Best Scenic Design - Richard Hudson
Best Costume Design - Julie Taymor
Best Lighting Design - Donald Holder

Is The Lion King film different to The Lion King musical?

Aside from the obvious difference that one is a film and one is a stage production, there are some notable differences between the two.

  • There's no animation in the musical production of The Lion King. Instead, the Serengeti is conveyed through costume and scenic design.

  • Rafiki is played by a female in the stage show, yet Rafiki is portrayed is a male in the movie.

  • This could be perhaps expected from a musical, but there's additional songs in The Lion King on stage. New songs include "The Lioness Hunt" sung by the lionesses.

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What are some fun facts about The Lion King?

  • It takes hundreds of puppets to bring the animal kingdom to life in The Lion King. In fact, 232 puppets are used each performance.

  • The name Simba is actually derived from the Swahili word "simba" meaning lion.

  • "Circle of Life" features a section sung in Zulu. The lyrics translate in English to "Here comes a lion, father, Oh yes it's a lion."

  • The Lion King storyline is inspired by William Shakespeare's Hamlet.

How do I get tickets for The Lion King?

The Lion King is one of the most popular musicals in London. Don't miss out on the groundbreaking Disney musical and visit the Serengeti plains at The Lion King today.

Book The Lion King tickets on London Theatre.

LT - CTA - 250

See more shows in the West End

Recommended Shows - Frozen

Book Frozen tickets on London Theatre.

Recommended Shows - The Book of Mormon

Book The Book of Mormon tickets on London Theatre.

Recommended shows - Wicked

Book Wicked tickets on London Theatre.

Photo credit: The Lion King (Photo courtesy of Disney Theatricals)

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