Based on Disney's 1994 animated feature film, the stage adaptation opened first on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre in November 1997 before receiving its West End premiere at the Lyceum Theatre on 19 October 1999 (previews from 24 September). The original Broadway creative team, led by director and designer Julie Taymor, reunited for the London production, with choreography by Garth Fagan, costumes by Taymor, puppetry and masks by Taymor and Michael Curry and set design by Richard Hudson.
In the decade since, The Lion King has been seen by over eight million people at over 4,200 performances in London, equalling an average attendance of 93% capacity, and has grossed in excess of £289 million at the box office. It now ranks among the top ten longest-running shows in West End history.
“It’s profoundly gratifying to see that British audiences continue to embrace The Lion King in such an extraordinary way,” said Thomas Schumacher, producer and president of Disney Theatrical Productions. “I am tremendously proud of our entire creative team as well as our cast and crew in the West End who bring Julie Taymor’s glorious production to life each and every time the curtain rises.”
Taymor added: “Over the past ten years, more than 220 performers from all over the world have been part of the incredible company in London, each bringing their own unique talents, energy and joy to help tell this universal story. The thing that moves me most about the success of The Lion King is the fact that it truly transcends the barriers between culture and between races and is able to tell a story in a style that speaks to everyone equally.”
The Lion King features 15 songs, including the five from the film. Unlike the screen version, however, African sounds and rhythms are fused on stage with Western popular music to create the musical's distinctive sound. The stage score comprises three new songs written by Elton John and Tim Rice, with additional numbers by South African-born Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Hans Zimmer and Julie Taymor. The book is by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi.
Amongst other upcoming one-off events and galas: