Everybody on this earth has probably heard of The Lion King, if not then where have you been hiding? When I was a young girl Lion King had to be one of my favourite Disney movies to watch on repeat. So when I was around 7/8 and my parents surprised me with a trip to London to go see it in the theatre, I was excited to say the least! Since that day I have been obsessed with the theatre production and I will constantly rave and big it up to anyone who wants to listen! I also managed to see it again on my 13th birthday and it was STILL as incredible as the last time I saw it so when it came down to deciding how I wanted to spend time with my family for my birthday this year, I thought it was only right that 9 years on we go see the show that made my childhood.
So on the 29th of April this year my parents, Alex and I made our way to London to have a couple of days relaxing in the capital based around the 7:30pm showing of The Lion King that night. We arrived at the theatre around 6:20pm and were let in straight away. The stalls bar wasn’t open yet but we brought a few items from the shop (couple of t-shirts, blanket, magnet, mug and program) which was surprisingly not bad value. We then checked our bag into the cloakroom which was simple and cost around a pound and then headed up to the Grand Circle bar to get a drink (as in all theatres drinks were overpriced). Once we heard that the stalls bar was open we went down there and waited to be let in.
Once we were in our seats (the door staff are very helpful) we settled down and saw a menu in front of us. This is something that a lot of theatres now seem to do and it is a BRILLIANT idea. Now when Alex and I saw Les Miserables we thought it was genius that you could reserve drinks/snacks from the bar and pick them up in the foyer at the interval. Well theatre’s have upped their game! They now offer an in seat service where you basically hold the menu up and the attendant will take your order and then it is delivered to your chair during the interval. Genius.
Now lets talk about the actual show, The Lion King has being running at the Lyceum Theatre in London for 16 years which is a long time for any production. The creative team behind it have managed to almost double the length of the production in comparison to the film and have integrated a lot of new material that takes you on a whole new level of emotional depths.
When the lights come up and Rafiki is on stage and begins to summon all the animals to Pride Rock you will get goosebumps, it has to be one of the greatest openings to a musical EVER. If you do ever go see it (which I recommend) then try to get an aisle stall seat, I won’t tell you why but DO IT, you won’t regret it! Even though the first number is one of the best in the entire musical you are still captivated all the way through the performance, which is challenging for a 2 hour 10 minute performance.
One of the things I’ve noticed after seeing it for the third time is how adaptable it is to change, they’ve removed a song and extended a number with a slight techno beat which is unusual, but it works. They have also added modern elements to it, for example, everybody knows the scene in the film where Zazu is in the cage and Scar is taunting him and tells Zazu to sing him something, well Zazu starts singing something depressing so Scar says “Something a bit more cheery”. Well in the film and the original stage performance Zazu sings “It’s a Small World” which is deemed as an annoyingly happy song, however in this performance he started singing “Let It Go” which got the crowd laughing and was just something a little bit different. I just love how from seeing it as a child and seeing it now I can see how there are jokes not just for the children and this adds a whole new element to it.
The lighting and scenery give an epic impression that you are in the Pridelands and is so impressive. The music is incredible and has so many layers as the Musical Director brings together voices, instruments and random objects (watch the guy in the box on the left of the stage, you’ll see what I mean). The only thing I would have to criticise on my last time there was the audience. I don’t know how many times the poor theatre staff had to come in and tell several people off for filming parts of the production. I know it’s exciting and you want to have your own snippet of it but it clearly states at the beginning to not film it, it just ruins it for the people who are a couple of rows behind you and have to hear you arguing with the attendant that you have deleted the video when you clearly haven’t.
Overall this is still a performance that I would certainly recommend to all ages and whether you like musicals or not. Everybody who steps into that theatre becomes a child and who doesn’t want to pretend their 10 again? I would love to hear your experiences of the West End, what productions would you recommend?