Lion King

Date February 11, 2010 | Map

Mainstream musicals, as in typical feelgood family entertainment, are usually not my cup of tea. Yet when I was offered a reduced best available seat for Disney’s Lion King, I instantly accepted. How could I not? Lion King has a robust reputation and a number of followers, and even though it is understandably appealing to the young ones, I have had a few recommendations from adults as well. Plus, it is very hard to get good discounts on Lion King tickets, further underlining its popularity, so this was a brilliant opportunity to check what the fuss is all about.

Lyceum Theatre London

Lyceum Theatre, by AndyRob via

Seat-wise, the Lyceum Theatre is a top ten West End venue, easily outdoing the 2,000 seat threshold by 100 seats. As with many theatres in London, it has quite an interesting history, being relocated in the early 19th century, redeveloped in rococo style 70 years after its opening at the current site, threatened by demolition for road improvements, and various other closures and redevelopments. Its recent history is much more stable, with the Lion King now being in its eleventh year.

Our seats in the stalls were pretty good, and they better be for a mid-week standard price of £53.50! Which we did not pay, of course, but even our discount did not get us below £30 – but that is a fair price to pay for stalls at a popular West End show. The auditorium itself is very beautiful and very rightly gained its Grade II* listed status, protecting Bertie Crewe‘s interior design skills.

The show itself was good entertainment. The storyline, well, holds no surprise, therefore the musical must convince by other means. These means were undoubtedly the costumes and animal imitations: the actors did a splendid job in moving their heads, shoulders, legs and the rest of their bodies skillfully, reminding us of the animals they were representing, and this worked well in most cases. Zazu the sarcastic hornbill was clearly the most refreshing character. Musically, the show confirmed that I am really not into Elton John. I checked the cast recording afterwards and found that all interesting songs were those not written by EJ, whereas almost all songs pinned by him were very foreseeable and thus, I am afraid, rather boring and emotionally superficial. In terms of singing, Brown Lindiwe Mkhize, who played the wise baboon Rafiki, simply blew me away, a stunning performance and my personal highlight of the show.

Overall, it was enjoyable light entertainment. Colourful, positive, pleasing, but don’t expect much depth. Perfectly fine for families, were the ticket fees not so ridicilously high. One can easily survive without having seen the Lion King, but visiting this show is no waste of time – most other shows are probably worse.

And if you cannot get enough: Disney’s Lion King website is pretty good, and they have a YouTube channel/playlist as well, with loads of really interesting info, including interviews etc. Very well executed, it cannot get more professional.

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