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One of London's most storied theatres, though these days it's basically just the home of 'The Lion King'
The huge, sumptuous Lyceum Theatre has one of the liveliest histories of any London building. Originally built in 1765, it functioned as a theatre for a while before drifting off to host other things, including a circus, a zoo, a bare knuckling boxing ring and a waxwork exhibition. After a fire it was rebuilt and reopened in something like its present form in 1834.
Outside, its grand Neoclassical facade boasts Greek temple-style columns and ornate stonework. Inside, it's just as fancy, with an interior that drips with gilt and painted homages to the Italian old masters. It was a fitting home for two Victorian legends: theatre manager Henry Irving, and much loved actor Ellen Terry. Surprisingly, Irving recruited 'Dracula' author Bram Stoker as his business manager, who dealt with grumpy thesps by day, and wrote about marauding vampires by night. Stoker's blood-sucking hero is thought to be inspired by Irving, who by all accounts sapped his life force with his exhausting demands.
The late 20th century wasn't always kind to Lyceum Theatre. In 1951, it was turned into a ballroom, and then a music venue that filled its ornate interiors with music fans, bopping to the likes of The Who, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Queen and Prince. The theatre finally closed for a decade from 1986. Since a total refurb and grand reopening in 1996, the Lyceum Theatre played continual host to 'The Lion King', the most successful theatre show of all time. A solid hit with families, this latest chapter in the Lyceum's Theatre is unlikely to end anytime soon.
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