The Lion King

Theatre , West End Lyceum Theatre , Covent Garden Until Sunday November 27 2016
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 4 out of 5 stars
(57 user reviews)
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Johan Persson
Brinkhoff/Mögenburg, Hamburg

The posters have been plastered around the London Underground for years – long enough for this show to become the most successful musical of all time – but nothing prepares you for the sheer impact of 'The Lion King's opening sequence.

With the surge of 'Circle Of Life' reverberating through your chest, Julie Taymor's animal creations march on, species by species. Gazelles spring, birds swoop and an elephant and her child lumber through the stalls. It's a cacophonous cavalcade that genuinely stops you breathing. You'd think Noah's Ark had emptied onto the stage.

For a global blockbuster, 'The Lion King's absolute theatricality is astonishing. Techniques from all over the world – African masks, Japanese Kabuki costumes, Malaysian shadow puppetry – are smashed together in an explosion of spectacle. It's perfect for a musical, allowing both distinct flavours and an eclectic carnival spirit.

Admittedly, things deflate when it sacrifices this defiant originality for subservient approximation of the film. Timon and Pumba (Damian Baldet and Keith Bookman), though impressively like their screen counterparts, step into the savannah from a different dimension.

The hyena-infested elephant's graveyard swaps menace for goofiness and the famous stampede scene, so delicately handled and moving in the film, is merely ticked off with a sigh of relief.

The familiarity of the film is a root cause of the show's commercial success. But, ironically, 'The Lion King' can't afford such compromises. Its plot is thin enough to turn your brain to mulch and the score, which sits Elton John and Tim Rice's pop anthems with Lebo M's African-inspired additions, remains disjointed. Amongst the current cast, Andile Gumbi's Simba is too limply wholesome, but George Asprey and Shaun Escoffery are aptly majestic as Scar and Mufasa.

Nonetheless Taymor's theatrical fireworks, backed up by Donald Holder's oft-unsung, emotive lighting, are more than draw enough. 'The Lion King' is a show that demands to be seen.

Venue name: Lyceum Theatre
Address: 21 Wellington St
Transport: Tube: Covent Gdn
Price: £25-£98. Runs 2hrs 30mins
Event website:

Average User Rating

4.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:39
  • 4 star:6
  • 3 star:5
  • 2 star:3
  • 1 star:3
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maayan s

not impressed with the singing quality. was really excited and it was just not a good performance by the actors that played Simba and Scar.  Great costume design though

Violet M

Right, so I know I am probably in the minority here, but I just was not impressed with The Lion King.

Sadly, very sadly - I wanted to and thought I would love it. So, what was good? The costumes, the puppets, the stage were just WOW. The way the actors moved their bodies to portray animal movements in the amazing costumes. 

I won't pretend to be a theatre buff (but hey I did musical theatre in high school, so why not?) - film and theatre are two different mediums, and should be adapted accordingly. This production was just a copy of the film. It was like doing a remake and the only difference was that it was live action. I wouldn't bother to watch a remake of a film that remade the film scene by scene. So why would I watch it in live action?

Having seen & been in a few musicals, one thing I always enjoy is watching the big song-and-dance numbers. The ones that have loads of people in them and it's chaos but perfectly coordinated - so cool to watch. The Lion King really doesn't have much of that. There is a lot of swaying, some dancing, but mostly nothing big. 

I remember watching The Lion King as a kid and just being amazed by it all. There was something magical about it. Unfortunately the theatre show just doesn't capture the same magic. 


I believe that the success secret of many West End musicales in the multilayered narrative with something for everyone to enjoy. There will be entertainment for the young and tongue in cheek jokes for adult and everyone from a housewife to a university professor will be able to enjoy it. This is where Lion Kings falls flat on its face. Not counting the very clever costumes and spectacular set design (which, some may argue, make the whole affair worth your time), I found the show rather boring and would only recommend it for kids and their parents.


Did you know it took 37,000 hours to build all of the original masks and puppets in the show. One of the best musicals in the West End and a must see for all ages. The songs, lights, costumes, story are all out of this world. Everyone knows the story line and songs and this show does it justice. The characters light up on stage and the music is so powerful. I went with my 6 year old nephew who loved it and also with my granny who I think loved it more than my nephew! A must see for everyone!

Ed. T

Ok so, controversial opinion here and please bear with me - but this show is overrated. Huge apologies to everyone else as it's clear how much they love it from their reviews, but I just didn't think it was particularly great. 

To set the scene, my girlfriend and I LOVE the movie and love Disney. And to some extent, I think this is part of the problem, weirdly enough. The stage show is essentially a carbon copy of the film, with about 80% of the same dialogue and speech meaning that if you love the movie, and know most of the lines...that's right, you already know pretty much this entire musical. 

Not a huge problem in itself, but all this does is really make viewers ask - "is this better than the movie?", rather than setting itself up in its own right as a standalone musical that uses the movie for inspiration. Dangerous ground we're on now! 

On the positive side, the props are fantastic and the dancing/atmosphere the cast create is brilliant - I really can't fault that at all, especially the way the actors embody the animals they're representing. 

However, stage shows have come a looongggg way from when the Lion King was originally put together, and I think the age of the show is now starting to become an issue. The set design is sparse, the lack of new material and only a few new songs is passable, and reusing the EXACT same jokes as the movie is borderline inexcusable. 

For the same price as a cheap ticket, you could go and watch another musical/stage hit like Book of Mormon or Wicked, and probably still have funds left over to get yourself a drink or if you're lucky, even dinner if you plan ahead. 

I enjoyed my time watching the stage show, don't get me wrong, but I couldn't help but leave the theatre thinking I'd rather just watch the movie again, and that is the LAST thing you want from watching a live show! 


I paid a lot of money for tickets to this show and consequently I was a bit weary and my expectations were high. I have to say that this play was absolutely amazing and exceeded my expectations by far!

The staging is definitely one of the best ones I have seen in the London theatre scene and the acting was powerful.  The scenes, sets and costumes were excellent and exotic and manage to bring the Disney story to live.

Discover it yourself, I will not disclose anything about set ups, just this comment: when I left the room, I had the impression my money (a lot of money) had been 300% well invested.

Sarah J

I'm lucky to have seen this performance several times from different views - and each and every time it was wonderful, breathtaking and spectacular. The cast do such a fantastic job of embodying the animals - and the songs are really fantastic. If you're able to - I would recommend getting seats in the stalls as oppose to the circle as there is a part of the performance you will really get to enjoy if you do (don't want to give too much away!)

The staging for the Lion King is definitely one of my favourites from all the London theatre performances, and despite having already seen the production a few times, I would definitely see it again. I would give it more stars if I could!

Rellie Loves

A must-see classic family musical! The Disney story comes to life with powerful acting, emotional scenes and enchanting music from beginning to end. The costumes are incredible and not a detail is missed. There’s something so much more thrilling seeing a live theatre production, so if you have yet to experience one then make The Lion King your first. There’s no chance of getting bored or impatient throughout this production either – instead you will leave feeling all of the warm and fuzzy emotions a musical should make you feel!

Staff Writer

An amazing show!! the music, the costumes, the special effects... its just all perfect and the performance of the actors is outstanding. The  story will take you through a large panel of emotions from joy to sadness, you will even feel like standing up and dancing when you hear the first notes of Hakuna wont help it!! I have seen this show three times and each time its been a wonderful experience. Don't be put off by the price of the ticket, its worth it whether you are a grown-up or a kid!!!

Donika I

What an amazing experience! The actors, the musicians, the special effects, the people behind the lights...everything was perfect! It was funny, it was sad, it was soo realistic! I liked it so much that I will definitely see it again! Thank you for the great performance!

Francisco M

Such a special movie for a 6-year old me, which turned into a great musical 22 years later. I loved every single characterization, specially the way you built the hyenas and the impalas. Great representation, awesome theatre! I'm already recommending to all of my friends, believing their inner child will reemerge. I will definitely watch more musicals!


Where and how do I start!? Lion King is down right, hands down the best show I have ever seen in the most beautiful Theatre in Covent Garden 'The Lyceum'. The Lion King is a truly spectacular show and I was fully immersed before the show had even started. The atmosphere is incredible and the detail is breathtaking. It was even better than I had expected after many years of anticipating. I am a huge Disney fan and I fail to say anything negative about the whole experience. It truly was seamless, beautiful and beyond impressive from the incredibly detailed costumes, the phenomenal props and remarkable orchestra. I came close to tears! The Lion King is honestly the most amazing experience in London.


Photo taken from the Grand Circle Row B 13-14

Jorge A.
Staff Writer

Outstanding show. Great story, actors, music, dresses... So far, it is the best musical I that have seen. Recommended for everyone.

Ioanna La

There's only good things I could say for this musical. I had heard so many positive comments about it from people who had watched it so my expectations were really high. Plus it is one of the most advertised musicals in town. And yet the result was even better than I could have ever expected. Being a huge fan of lion king since really really young and it being my favourite Disney movie, it really spoke to my heart and brought back so many memories. I would never expect I would like it so much. It is clearly a masterpiece. Every penny was worth it. I got goosebumps when the entrance song was played. The music was marvellous, the orchestra, the choir, the drums were fascinating. The visual effects and lighting were fantastic but the most impressive were the sets - as an engineer I really appreciated how perfect they were. Costumes were awesome, all performers were really talented. Brilliant performances, mind-blowing. One of the best things I've ever watched. Highly recommended to anyone!

Jack R

My expectations for this show were really high, even just from the way it's advertised around London. But nothing prepares you for the impact of the first scene of this musical, I was literally in awe for what took place as soon as the actors-animals entered the stage one after the other.

While the child inside of you rejoice for what your eyes are seeing, it's almost impossible not to be amazed by the high fidelity original soundtrack played by the orchestra under the stage and by the two percussionists.

5/5 on all fronts for me.


When I bought my tickets, I was petrified and utterly scared – what if the musical ruins one of my favourite childhood movies? What if this was the worst decision of my life? Actually, this was a genius idea.

The musical delivers the same magical feeling you get when watching the movie. I think the people behind the scene’s brilliance was to transcribe the atmosphere of the most striking film scenes rather than wanting to copy and paste the movie to the stage. The death of Mufasa was very well staged and triggered the same emotional distressed. The opening scene felt as grandiose and enchanted as the movie. This is simply incredible.

A great experience I would recommend to any Disney kid out there!


This musical is groundbreaking. The visual effects are stunning, the music is on par (and the live action and energy is so much better) than the Disney film it is based on.

Rafiki's comedy steals the show, the journey Simba takes will break your heart.

This show is a must on your bucket list. Take kids, dates, grannies, take anyone as  long as you experience this incredible showcase of design wizardry!

Corina B

This musical is beautiful, it is one masterpiece after another. The detail of the work is amazing as are the performers. The way the costume designers managed to recreate the iconic characters from the animated movie in real life makes the whole thing worth watching. Not to mention the way the actors manage to impersonate the animal's small movements. It's really something amazing to watch, not to mention that the singing is goosebump worthy. It's definitely a must see, and great event to go to with the family.

Adam G

An absolute sensation of a musical. I have been a huge fan of The Lion King ever since I was a kid and made my first ever trip to the cinema to see it. Back then the film blew my mind and 20 years on the musical did the same.

Everything from the costumes to the choreography was perfect. The characters in their authentic savannah-styled masks move across the stage, mimicking their animal counter parts to a T.

I'm sure that even those who have been living under a (Pride...) rock for the last 2 decades and have not seen the film would still find it as captivating as I did.

The Lion King will have you laughing, crying and singing along, exactly as a musical should.

Vajeeha M

Phe-nom-me-nal! I've even watched this twice (most likely because I'm a Lion King fanatic) but it truly is well reenacted by the cast for this. The youngn's who play child Simba and Nala were so great, I was actually surprised to see such perfect acting and singing skills at such a young age - even to the grown up versions who did full justice to the film. Rafiki was played a lady and since it's my fave character, I was thrilled and absolutely in tears from laughter as to how she played him!

It's a wonderful colourful experience and you'll be singing your socks off with them for sure.

Oh, and you're likely to fall in love with the guy who plays Scar, plenty of chuckes were due to him.

Molly H

Awe inspiring!

Went with my family to see this and it was worth every penny.

The opening scene with the amazing characters and costumes pouring through the audience, brought my Mum to tears (and she doesn't usually cry at that sort of thing). Truly breath taking.

I have seen other reviewers mention that the child actors are not very strong. I agree yes they aren't the strongest and Nala stuttered in her song when I went, but everyone makes mistakes and they are so brave to be performing at their age and especially when singing from the back of gigantic Ostriches! No word can describe the costumes, just exquisite genius. 

Before I end up rambling about how amazing this show is, I cannot recommend it highly enough! You simply have to see it. My Aunty has just booked tickets after already seeing the show 4 times. Best musical, best stage show, best performance I have ever seen. The set and lighting and music are brilliant and the lead characters have such powerful voices.

moderatorStaff Writer

My favourite west end show by some distance - the costumes and set are something else and really bring the Savannah to life. The music then takes the production to another level with familiar songs and harmonies which create the most fantastic overall setting and atmosphere. A great show for adults and kids or a combination of the two. The cast really are amazing. If only it were easier to get hold of reasonably priced tickets, to see elephants, giraffes, and hyena wondering around London - ah yes, for that go to Regent's park zoo. Plenty of local places to eat and drink beforehand with the likes of the Balthazaar just around the corner a particular favourite.

Louise S
Staff Writer

The staging is fantastic, the animals created by people on stilts and in amazing costumes were wonderful. All round great show!

exceptional music and we'll directed show.. must watch

Emile C

The best part of the show were the songs, loved the costumes and special effects, however the child actors were my only critique, their performance could have been better.

Charly Lester
moderatorStaff Writer

Lovely musical - great music, incredible costumes and definitely worth taking kids to 

Emmanuel R

Soooooo boring, very over rated. Plus the acting wasn't great at all. Glad I was offered a ticket and didn't pay for it. Really wouldnt reacommend it. Even for kids it's verrrrrrrrry loooong. The costumes were ok, teh story VERY weak, the choreography inextistant. I had very high expectations I must say but what a disapointment. Trully AWFUL.

Chiara T

definitely fun and well made, I was hoping for a few more dances and choreographies (and maybe for a bit more spectacular scenes), it must definitely look more epic and grandiose to children, nonetheless a nice musical that will cheer up your day :) 

michael D

What can you say apart from, go and see it, amazing show and i am tempted to go back again: the costumes where fantastic along with the music which we all know and love. I was more excited than my children and we managed to stay quite close to the theatre at the Strand Palace Hotel and that was beautiful, i know the hotels get really booked up around the west end but this might help if you’re looking to go and see the Lion King. it really is a must see musical.


The whole show was simply mind-blowing, the costumes, the performers. It's definitely one of the best shows in town, if not the best. The performance given by the kids was especially impressive.

Maxine Watts

This was a truly amazing experience! My daughter and I were enchanted from the first moment the animal creations came through the audience. Creative costumes, beautiful singing and lovely venue. Coming from Guernsey where there are no theatres, this was a real treat.

Zuzana Kromkova

Beautiful performance, amazing costumes and definetely must see musical when you are in London!! Can't wait to show it to my nieces,,

Lorraine Camille

Simply amazing. The costumes, the music, the mechanics of the show made the Lion King an enchanting mix of art and craft, seizing the audience for the whole show! I would go back with pleasure!


So glad I got over my theatre-snobbishness and let Granny take us. All 3 generations of the family loved it. Remarkably fresh. You have nothing to worry about!

Laurie UK

FABULOUS!!! Took friend who were in from the US. They LOVED every minute of this show. It was their first time seeing a show in the west end & the Lion King did not disappoint. They and we will be back. Awesome actors, set & the costumes are over the top.


I went for my 21st birthday and it was the best show I have ever seen by far! The music was fantastic and it was really well done with all of the little surprises. The costumes were incredible and I can't wait to go again!

Thomas Isaiah Oluwafemi

Excellence is too small a word to describe the show. If you can check my booking, it will be seen that I did same on line from our base in Lagos, Nigeria for the entire family (visiting London on holidays) and my daughters, ages 7 & 9 went ballistic on seeing live, the stage adaption of their favorite film. We were all more than blown away, the detailed costumes, the stage and sound effects were excellent. All the persons involved effectively paid their part. it really caped our trip as we will be heading back on the 29/12/2013.


One must watch the Lion King at least once in his life - Awesome performance, Brilliant Costumes, a Feel Good show !!!!

Stephen Higgins

Emotionally gripping story with vivid acrobatics & beautifully written music to compliment the atmosphere of the story


Watched it for the second time- taking my hubby this time. I loved every detail of the show like I was watching it for the first time! Amazing! Must watch!

Zelma Louise Villiger

What a fabulous Musical. It was the best Musical I've ever seen. The performance,the make-up and the lovely singing voices.I'll definately go again and take my kids with and tell friends to go and see it as well. Well done to all the actors,actresses and kids, you've done a great Job.

Linda Triffon

One of the greatest disappointments ever! Although the sets, scenery, amazing costumes, and lighting were very impressive, the quality of the performance was so below par for a West End show, that I felt I was at a 5th year play at a children's school. The singing was adequate, the acting was appalling, and the dancing nothing to write home about. One feels that maybe after so many years on the boards, a grade 3 troupe has been substituted for what may once have been a top-notch cast. It was monotonous and boring, and quite frankly I couldn't wait for it to end.


We went there with 16 people, of different age, and they all were excited about the show. It was a great experience, and a marvelous show. One of the main characters was singing a little out of tone, but the rest was really great. Grand opening and majestic scenes in between. If you get in the vicinity, get tickets and enjoy!

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