Dazzling carnival of theatre: Reviewing Lion King at London West End
I have to say - as far as West End musicals go, The Lion King is an amazing spectacle. The songs, the actors, puppetry, the stage design... You have everything and plenty of it. There is a reason why The Lion King has been running continuously since 1999, so over 20 years already! Here is my short review of The Lion King musical as it is currently running at Lyceum Theatre, in West End London, and how to get cheap tickets.
Review of The Lion King musical
Set design and puppetry
The set design for Lion King is just phenomenal. I was amazed how they managed to capture all those scenes and loved how inventive the set design was. Lots of well-thought through designs that managed to capture the vibes from the animation, such as the sinister elephants graveyard, or the majestic savannah. For me the most surprising thing was how well the powerful stampede scene was captured. The design really demonstrated the nearing threat and fear.
The puppetry and costumes were also intricate and clever, and drew inspiration from techniques around the world. I'm sure I saw African masks and some Asian shadow puppetry influences amongst others.
One of my favourite puppetry costumes was the cheetah, with the way the dancers moved in line with the costume. Overall, the stage was packed with a wild variety of small and large puppetry designs, from birds to giraffes to multi-manned rhinos and elephants. There were several different animals simultaneously on stage, like an explosion of a magical musical carnival. Always something to see and marvel at. In short, absolutely incredible display.
If you can, I would recommend getting tickets in stalls by the middle aisles, as the dances walk through these to the stage and you get to admire the costumes up close that way.
The story, singing and acting
For the musical parts, my favourite was Nala's solo Shadow Land and my daughters was the Can You Feel The Love Tonight. There was and original piece at the Elephant's Graveyard scene called Chow Down. All the hits from the original musical were in the theatrical adaptation and in the same order if I remember correctly, so it was easy to follow along. I for example found Frozen The Musical (my review here) a bit tricky at times as the order of some songs had changed and it threw me off.
Acting was overall good, and for example Timon and Pumba sounded just like in the original animation, which was a nice touch and made it again feel more like the original animation.
Lyceum Theatre is very conveniently located near Covent Garden. It probably takes about 5-10minutes to walk up there from the station. The theatre in itself is quite nice with decent bathrooms, and there are booster seats for kids available although they are not the most comfiest. Do try get one as soon as you get there, as they do occasionally run out when there are lots of kids. And lots of kids do attend this musical!
As usual there is ice cream and drinks available, even pop corn, which was a bit weird for a theatre. I do really dislike when theatres sell "noisy" snacks. Anyway, audience behaviour at matinees can be a bit of a pain. I'm less bothered by noisy kids, as that's what they do, but noisy adults and chatting to your kids when in theatre drive me nuts. Thankfully, The Lion King was enjoyable enough to be able to block most of the annoyances out. It might be better in the evenings!
Merchandise galore there is, but it is quite pricey! Plush toys if I remember correctly start at £25 for the smallest ones, and there are plenty more expensive things to get too, like a snowglobe at £50. I got my daughter a bracelet set at £15, which she has worn once after the theatre, but never mind... I now understand why some parents choose to pre-buy cheaper toys to give to their kids before they get there, it does add up if you've got several kids.
How to get cheap tickets
There are occasional sales - I for example scored tickets to the stalls for £20 a pop when they normally sell for £70. Well worth a look, but you might have to book quite early. Worth checking around January in particular.
Alternatively, check out DisneyTickets Magical Mondays! Monday noon they release some tickets for the following week at £25 a pop. You can buy only two tickets. I recommend creating the account before, and logging in earlier than midday. There are also tickets to Frozen The Musical. You'll also be able to pre-purchase plush toys with your tickets, for cheaper than at the theatre.
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You might also like: Review: Frozen The Musical West End - the good and the bad and Tiger who came to tea: Lively and energetic show!