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GILT2015 – Disney’s The Lion King

Disney's The Lion King

Oliviers Audience Award: The Lion King

First Published 23 February 2015, Last Updated 13 March 2015

What’s it all about?

Loosely inspired by Hamlet – very loosely – The Lion King is the story of a lion prince whose father *SPOILER ALERT (or not, if you know Hamlet)* meets with an untimely wildebeest-packed end. Believing it’s his fault, as that’s what he’s told by his machievellian uncle, young Simba runs away to find himself before deciding whether he should return home to save his family.

Oh, and it is packed full of stonking tunes – mostly written by the dream team of Elton John and Tim Rice – including the Oscar-winning Can You Feel The Love Tonight?, the joyful Hakuna Matata and the anthemic Circle Of Life.

Casting coup

The London production’s original cast featured actress and director Josette Bushell-Mingo OBE, who was Olivier nominated for her performance as Rafiki, alongside current Wicked wizard of Oz Martyn Ellis as Pumba and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory’s Paul J Medford as Banzai. Other notable cast members include Wicked and The Book Of Mormon star Alexia Khadime and former Pop Stars: The Rivals contestant Javine Hylton, who have both played Nala.

Fascinating facts

Disney’s The Lion King is famous for its puppets representing the wealth of animals found in the Serengeti. But we know that, so it doesn’t count as fascinating does it?

What is fascinating is that the production uses more than 230 masks and puppets to portray 25 different species of animals. The smallest being a firefly, the largest an elephant.

Olivier Awards history

Back in 2000 when The Lion King had first opened – that’s right, it’s graced the Lyceum Theatre stage for more than 15 years – it received eight Olivier Award nominations, winning for Best Costume Design and Best Theatre Choreographer.

It has never made the shortlist for the This Morning Audience Award, so if you want to roar it on to success this year, get voting now.

They say…

“It’s quite an honour. I think our show is about family. I think when we bring what we bring every night, the audience is our family, so it’s great to have that support and to see the ‘house full’ sign always. The support is crazy.” Calvyn Grandling

We say…

A decade and a half after opening, Disney’s The Lion King is still thrilling audiences with startlingly inventive puppetry, a score you’ll hum for months before and after your visit, and characters that will make you chortle, weep and everything in between. Can you feel the love?


Disney’s The Lion King is booking at the Lyceum Theatre until 4 October. You can buy tickets through us here.

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