Based on Disney's 1994 animated feature film, the stage adaptation opened first at Broadway's New Amsterdam Theatre in November 1997. The original Broadway creative team, led by director and designer Julie Taymor, reunited for the London production.
Featuring 14 songs, including the five from the film and new songs by Elton John and Tim Rice, The Lion King has a book by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi, with additional numbers by South African-born Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Hans Zimmer and Julie Taymor.
To coincide with the milestone, producers Disney Theatrical Group and Walt Disney Company UK and Ireland released a collection of impressive facts and figures about the show:
Eighteen productions of the The Lion King have been performed in 14 countries across five continents. It has been seen by more than 60 million people worldwide, grossing $4.3 billion and has run for a cumulative 83 years.
Creating the masks and 232 puppets required in the show took 37,000 hours to create - that's over 1,542 days. Annual maintenance of the 20 Grasslands headdresses used in the show requires over 3,000 stalks (or more than 27kg) of grass.
There are six indigenous African languages used in the show, which has now been performed in seven languages, launching in Spanish at Madrid's Lope de Vega Theatre on 21 October 2011.
Composer Tim Rice joined the cast, including Brown Lindiwe Mkhiwe, Shaun Escofferey, Carole Stennett, Stephen Matthews, George Asprey, Andile Gumbi, Ava Brennan, Damian Baldet and Kieth Bookman, on stage for last night's curtain call.