As Disney’s The Lion King prowls into its 10th year in the West End’s theatrical jungle, it is marking the occasion with special appearances on the Royal Variety Performance and Radio’s 2 Friday Night Is Music Night, making musical theatre history in the process.
When The Lion King transports the African savannah from its regular home at the Lyceum theatre to the London Palladium for the Royal Variety Performance on 11 December, it will become the first West End musical to perform for a second time at the annual regally endorsed entertainment extravaganza.
The cast of the musical film adaptation, which first performed at the event in 1999, will perform the show’s spectacular opening number Circle Of Life, complete with puppets and costumes of all shapes and sizes, including an 11ft elephant.
Prior to its Royal Variety outing, the cast of The Lion King will be joined by the 74-piece BBC Concert Orchestra and West End and Broadway stars including Ashley Brown, Tituss Burgess, Kerry Butler, Maria Friedman, Heather Headley, Adam Pascal, Matt Rawle and Drew Sarich, to record a special edition of Radio 2’s Friday Night Is Music Night celebrating the music of Disney. The concert, which will be recorded on 8 December and broadcast on Boxing Day, will include Oscar, Grammy and Tony Award-winning songs from over 65 years of Disney musicals.
Based on Disney’s much loved 1994 film of the same name, The Lion King opened in the West End in 1999. The musical tells the story of young lion cub Simba, who, when he is convinced by his nefarious uncle Scar that he has caused the death of his father the king, runs away from his family to a life without worries. Years later, with the pride on the brink of starvation, he is convinced to return to save his family. The production features music from Oscar winners Hans Zimmer, Elton John and Tim Rice, along with new pieces created especially for the stage.
The current cast of The Lion King features 2008 Laurence Olivier Award nominee Shaun Escoffery as King Mufasa, Andile Gumbi as Simba and George Asprey as Scar.