Newest Review: ... looked like a baby lioness surrounded by grown lionesses, full of grace and elegance. The music of the Lion King is obviously well-known... more
Hakuna Matata, it means no worries you will love this show
Member Name: cdonkin
Advantages: Amazing songs, Amazing Sets, Amazing costumes. The whole production is AAAA+
Disadvantages: Getting drinks stolen, leg room at Lyceum
I was approaching my first anniversary with my wonderful Girlfriend and was looking for something romantic to treat her too. She'd given me such a great year and this was my change to give her something back. I thought about the obvious; weekends to Paris or Rome, a Candlelit dinner at a nice restaurant you get the idea. These ideas whilst good and perfectly good surprises for your girlfriend on your first anniversary didn't have that spark that made me think yes this will be a good idea. It was then in a conversation with a family member that I became aware of show and stay.
A quick Google search later and I was on Show and stays website. Show and stay offer packages of Hotels and West end shows. You pick the show then pick the theatre and can add in any extras you want to add such as trips on the London Eye, Tickets to museums etc. The tickets often work out much cheaper than booking say a hotel and a theatre show separately.
I hatched a plan to surprise my girlfriend, to drag her to the railway station on the premise that we were going somewhere secret for our anniversary. I'd then lead her to out hotel (Crowne Plaza London City) and surprise her with the tickets.
All I had to do now was pick the show. The show had to have a wow factor, had to be impressive and had to be something a little bit different. I had heard about the Lion King musical from family members who had been to see it. They had all been full of praise for the musical, the songs, the set design, the acting, and the overall feel of the immense scale of the production. At the time I hadn't given too much thought to ever going to see it. Whilst I am a Disney fan and enjoy the movies I wouldn't say I was a hardcore fan. I don't know all the words to the songs and I don't get excited from singing along to the movies unlike the people who I was getting these rave reviews from. I was unsure if I ever went to see it, that I would be as captivated as they had been. However this wasn't all about me. My Girlfriend is a big Disney fan, is someone who would sing along to the words. I was sold.
I booked the tickets for a Saturday night showing and got tickets at the back of the stalls on the right hand side of the theatre. In total the theatre tickets and a night in the Crowne Plaza worked out at £149 each. I thought this was very reasonable. I believe if you were to book online through Ticketmaster or a similar service, tickets to the show alone will set you back between £25 - 340 excluding booking fees and postage.
The lyceum is a very accessible theatre. Located on the Strand it is a short walk from Charing Cross or Covent Garden tube stations. You can't miss the Lyceum as you walk through the west end. It is a large theatre with big towering Roman columns and lit up from spot lights on the ground. Large banners advertising the Lion King Show drape down the sides of the theatre.
As you enter, everything is well presented and decorated. It is clean and the staff are friendly. We ordered a drink at the bar and then reserved drinks for the intermission. The bill almost came to the price of a ticket to the show! With a hole in my bank balance and a Carlsberg that would be finished in a few mouthfuls we took our seats.
As mentioned earlier our seats were at the back of the stalls and to the right. I can't remember the exact seats but from where we were back here we still had an excellent unobstructed view to the stage. I was impressed as I had been slightly pessimistic about being able to see the whole show. Leg room isn't a premium in the Lyceum but when is it ever at a theatre?
We settled down. The lights in the theatre drop, anticipation begins to raise within me "Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba", the hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention. My heart rate starts to intensify. I'm becoming excited like a young boy again. "Nants ingonyama bagithi baba,Sithi uhhmm ingonyama, Ingonyama" Rafiki belts out to the packed Lyceum. I can't believe I am here, sat in a packed on Lyceum on a Saturday night in December, watching my favourite Disney movie on stage live.
Oh.My.God. The introduction to this production and the circle of life song easily repay the cost of the tickets. I am left with my jaw firmly on the surprisingly clean floor of the lyceum. My eyes open as wide as they can go taking in everything I am seeing.
As Rafiki and the ensemble sing Circle of life, a giant pride rock circles out from under the stage, as animals of all size and type come onto the stage from all directions. Gazelles move majestically dancing onto set, tropical birds fly over head, a leopard moves gracefully and elegantly onto the stage. Then a life-size elephant comes marching down the aisle next to me followed by more animals. Huge giraffes accompany the ensemble of animals as pride rock nearly reaches its full size. In the background the sun climbs higher and higher. Finally pride rock stops its ascent and Mufasa accompanied by Sarabi climb it to it's pinnacle. Their joined by rafiki they raise the baby Simba to the animal kingdom.
A Huge roar engulfs the theatre. This isn't the roar of a lion or some other wild beast. This is the cheers, the applause from the mere humans sat here watching this spectacle. I am deafened by the sound of clapping and cheering, whistling and whooping. Not one member of the theatre is disappointed, we have all had value for money and we are only five minutes into this show!
I don't think I need to go into too much detail about the plot but incase you haven't seen or heard of the Lion King (Have you lived your life under a rock) I shall give a quick overview.
The Lion King is set in the pride Lands of Africa. The "Lion King" Mufasa rules over all the animals in his kingdom. Mufasa and his wife Sarabi give birth to a baby boy called Simba. Simba is shown off to the kingdom and anointed by Rafiki. The story follows Simba in the early stages of his life. He is a active young cub, keen to learn the ways of the world he has been brought up in, but also keen to break rules for fun. Simba is taken advantage of by Scar, his uncle, who tells him of an elephant grave yard. Scar is angered by Simbas arrival as it will mean he will no longer take the thrown should Mufasa die and join the circle of life. Scar hatches a plan to lure Simba to the graveyard where he will be ambushed by Hyenas.
Simba has been barred from ever going to the graveyard by Mufasa but his inquisitive nature sees him hatch a plot to ditch his babysitter Zazu with the help of his best friend Nala. Once in the graveyard the clubs are confronted and threatened by the evil Hyenas Shenzi, Banzai and Ed. Their lives are saved... just by Mufasa who rescues the young cubs.
Annoyed that he is still not heir to the thrown, Scar joins forces with the Hyenas, promising them all the animals they want to eat should he become king. Intent on regicide Scar lures samba into a gorge, whilst the Hyenas scare a herd of wildebeest. A stampede happens and Simbas life is once again saved by Mufasa. Left clinging to the gorges side, fearing for his life Mufasa begs his brother to help him, however Scar flings the king to his death.
Simba, having witnessed the death of his father is persuaded he is responsible by Scar. Simba flees the pride lands chased by the Hyenas. Simba escapes through a thorn patch and runs away into the distance. Scar returns to the pride with the sad news and takes over as King of the prides. A new era dawns, one in which lion and Hyena come together.
Meanwhile the exhausted Simba is found by Timon and Pumbaa who adopt and raise Simba. Simba is raised on a diet of bugs (And still manages to grow big and strong) and Hakuna Matata and is eventually found by Nala who informs Simba of the devastation caused by Scars rule of the pride lands. Simba though, blaming himself for the death of his father refuses to return to the pride lands.
It taks some persuasion from Rafiki and a ghostly message from his father for Simba to finally return to the pride. A fight ensues between Scar and Simba ending in Simba clinging onto pride rock for his life. Scar reveals the truth about his father's death and Simba jumps to safety and forces scar to reveal the truth.
Scar blames everything on his Hyena friends and is kicked from the cliff, where he survives the fall but is surrounded by the hyenas that attack Scar. In true Disney fashion the story ends happily. The circle of life continues with the birth of Simba and Nalas newborn cub.
The musical follows the plot of the movie closely but does also feature some exclusive scenes that keep the story fresh and that something different to the production. The new scenes aren't just filler scenes to make the show longer, they really do add something to the story.
The movie is famous for its score wrote by Tim Rice and Elton john and the musical is no different. All of the famous songs are here, updated and brought alive on stage, as well as some songs wrote particularly for the musical. Like the new scenes the new songs add depth and dimension to the show, making it not just a carbon copy of the movie, but an update and differentiation.
What really makes this show breathtakingly spectacular is the set design, costumes and puppetry. I am still amazed whenever I look at photos at the attention of detail to the costumes. So much work has been done to make the humans look like animals. The puppetry as well is incredible. I still can't figure out how they make the heads move as they do.
The sets look like they have been painstakingly developed to include all the beauty and magic of Africa. When Pride rock rises from the stage in the opening scene you know you're in for a treat. I wondered at the start of the show how they might do scenes like the stampede to good effect and I was amazed to find out. The imagination and work that has gone into this show is staggering. My favourite part was the Mufassa ghost scene, something that truly has to be scene to believe.
By the end of the show I was truly breathtaking. This was the best show I had ever seen, and truly awarding of the standing ovation that it received. Everything about it, the cast, the songs, the sets and the costumes brought the spirit and magic you expect from Disney to the stage. I had heard it was good but I never anticipated it would be this good.
The only downside of the whole evening was that when you reserve drinks for the intermission they are just left with the receipt at the back of the bar. Our drinks were unfortunately stolen. Next to where the barman showed us he had left our Rose and bottle of lager, was a couple sat drinking a rose and bottle of lager... Fortunately the barman was friendly and helpful and served us some fresh drinks. It's just unfortunate there are some dishonest people around.
I really cannot stress this enough. If you see a show this year, make sure it is the Lion King. Boys, girls, Men, Women, Grans , Grandads - it's for all the family, for all ages, I doubt anyone will leave the theatre wishing they had gone to see something different.
Thank you for reading.
Summary: The best show i have ever seen. Truly fantastic
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