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Disney's The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre (Photo: Dewynters Photography)

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

By Carly-Ann Clements, Published January 12, 2018

Disney’s The Lion King is a multi-award-winning musical based on the 1994 Disney animated film of the same name. Have you seen the Pride of the West End yet? Here are 10 things you need to know about the show.

The Backstory of Disney’s The Lion King

Disney's The Lion King at The Lyceum Theatre (Photo: Dewynters Photography)

Disney’s The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre (Photo: Dewynters Photography)

The Lion King quickly became one of Disney’s most successful films. It won the Academy Awards for Best Original Score for Hans Zimmer, and Best Original Song for Elton John and Tim Rice’s Can You Feel The Love Tonight. With two other songs nominated – Circle Of Life and Hakuna Matata – there was no surprise when Disney Theatrical Productions announced there would be a stage adaptation.

Just three years after the film’s release, Disney’s The Lion King opened on Broadway, and quickly became the biggest musical in New York. It won five Tony Awards in its first year including the award for Best Musical. Two years later, it went on tour around the US and opened at the Lyceum Theatre in London’s West End – where it’s been ever since.

Directed by Julie Taymor – who also created the Olivier Award-winning puppets and sets that turned stages around the world, including the Lyceum Theatre, into the plains of Africa – Disney’s The Lion King is a theatrical spectacle. Since its London opening in 1999, the production has played to over 14 million people and has appeared on the Royal Variety Performance in 1999 and 2008. It’s now the sixth longest-running musical on the West End.

In 2016 Disney announced that there will be a live-action remake of The Lion King starring Donald Glover as Simba, Beyoncé as Nala, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar and James Earl Jones reprising his role as Mufasa. The film is set to be released in 2019 and will be directed by Jon Favreau.

What is The Lion King about?

Disney’s The Lion King is a radical retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, focusing on Simba, a young lion prince who must accept his past and face his destiny for the good of his people… well, animals.

When Simba is born, his uncle Scar is pushed one step further away from ruling the majestic Serengeti. In a bid to take the throne, Scar plots to kill young Simba and his father, King Mufasa. Simba – the rightful heir to the throne – survives the traitorous plot but is convinced he’s to blame for his father’s death. Ashamed and devastated, Simba flees the kingdom and his responsibilities, leaving Scar to rule.

Struggling to survive, Simba meets two social outcasts, Timon and Pumbaa, who teach him how to live a carefree life unaware of what’s happening at home. Eventually, his past catches up to Simba and forces him to choose between the easy-going life he’s built, or the duties he was born to take. But with Scar in the way of his Pride, will Simba become the rightful Lion King?

What age is The Lion King appropriate for?

Disney’s The Lion King is suitable for audiences aged 6 and over. Children under three will not be admitted into the theatre.

How long is The Lion King?

Disney’s The Lion King is 2 hours and 30 minutes including one interval. Performances are normally Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm with matinees on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2.30pm.

Where is The Lion King playing in London?

The Lyceum Theatre hosts The Lion King in the West End

The Lyceum Theatre hosts The Lion King in the West End

Disney’s The Lion King is playing at the Lyceum Theatre where it opened in 1999. It’s currently the sixth longest running show in London’s West End.

How do I get to the Lyceum Theatre?

The Lyceum Theatre is approximately 300 metres from Covent Garden tube station. You can also get to The Lion King via overground trains from London Charing Cross, which is approximately 550 metres away.

Will The Lion King be touring?

Disney’s The Lion King is currently not touring the UK. The only place to see it is the Lyceum Theatre in the West End.

Who is in the London cast of Disney’s The Lion King?

Janique Charles (Nala) and Nick Afoa (Simba) in Disney's The Lion King (Photo: Disney)

Janique Charles (Nala) and Nick Afoa (Simba) in Disney’s The Lion King (Photo: Disney)

Disney’s The Lion King currently stars The Crown’s Ricard Asprey as Scar and acclaimed musician Shaun Escoffery as Mufasa. For both younger Simba and Nala, there are four young actors to ensure each child can focus on studies and get enough rest.

  • George Asprey plays Scar. George has recently appeared in Netflix’s The Crown and has had roles in The Walking Dead, New Tricks and Psychoville. The evil Scar was voiced by Jeremy Irons in the original animated film.
  • Shaun Escoffery plays Mufasa. Not only is Shaun an Olivier Award-nominated actor, he’s also a soul and R&B singer with four critically acclaimed albums. The West End’s Mufasa was originated by EastEnders and Kidulthood star, Cornell Jones.
  • Nick Afoa plays Simba. Making his West End debut, Nick has joined the London cast after starring in the Australian tour of the show. The original Simba was voiced by Matthew Broderick.
  • Janique Charles plays Nala. This is Janique’s West End debut. The role of Nala will be played by Beyoncé in the 2019 remake of the film.
  • Brown Lindiwe Mkhize plays Rafiki. Her appearance in the musical marks Brown’s West End debut. Rafiki was originally played by Josette Bushell-Mingo who earned an Olivier Award nomination for her performance.
  • Gary Jordan plays Zazu. Gary’s credits include Grease, Anyone Can Whistle and Avenue Q. The role of Zazu was famously voiced by British funny-man Rowan Atkinson in the 1994 film and will be played by John Oliver in the 2019 remake.
  • Richard Frame plays Timon. Richard has appeared in TV shows including Outnumbered, Holby City and Kingdom. His theatre credits include Shakespearean plays: The Comedy Of Errors, Richard III and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  • Keith Bookman plays Pumbaa. Though he’s appeared in Les Misérables, Don Quixote and The Beautiful Game, Keith is better known for his TV work in Spain. The oafish hog will be played by Seth Rogen in the 2019 remake.

Where did Disney’s The Lion King originally open?

Disney’s The Lion King debuted in Minneapolis in July 1997 before premiering at the New Amsterdam Theatre on Broadway just three months later. In 2006, the Broadway production moved to the Minskoff Theatre where it’s still running.

The West End production is celebrating its 19th year, having opened on 19 October 1999 at the Lyceum Theatre, where it has entertained over 14 million people.

Will I like it?

Disney's The Lion King at The Lyceum Theatre (Photo: Dewynters Photography)

Disney’s The Lion King at The Lyceum Theatre (Photo: Dewynters Photography)

It’s one of your favourite movies come to life. Not only that, it’s got life-sized puppets, music written by Elton John and an incredible cast. We’re pretty sure you’re going to love Disney’s The Lion King.

It completely wowed audiences when it first opened almost 20 years ago and it’s still blowing audiences away today, and it has some of the most awe-inspiring costumes you’ll see on stage. Plus, there’s that familiar score which will give you goosebumps the instant Circle Of Life starts. It’s a great way to experience your favourite Disney film in a whole new way, and it’s a great way to introduce your children to the magic of the theatre.

Where can I buy The Lion King tickets?

Right here with us! Just visit Official London Theatre’s Disney’s The Lion King page to find the best available tickets for great prices. The show is also currently participating in our New Year Sale.