Lyceum Theatre – The Lion King

Nants ingonyama bagithi baba!

Ever wondered what are the opening words for the legendary Circle of Life musical version? Well no need to guess any more:

“Nants ingonyama bagithi baba
Sithi uhm ingonyama

Nants ingonyama bagithi baba
Sithi uhhmm ingonyama
Siyo Nqoba
Ingonyama nengw’ enamabala”

The words are in Zulu (South African ethnic people) and in English would sound as following:

“Here comes a lion, father
Oh yes it’s a lion

Here comes a lion, father
Oh yes it’s a lion
A lion
We’re going to conquer
A lion
A lion and a leopard come to this open place”



Lyceum theatre is in the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), together with 45 other venues in UK, US and Australia. ATG was founded in 1992 by the husband-and-wife duo of Sir Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire OBE. Sir Howard Panter is a multi-award winning British theatre impresario and theatre operator and Rosemary Squire OBE is a commercial theatre producer, both of them ranking amongst the most influential people in UK Theatre. ATG combines theatre ownership with production management, marketing and ticket operations. ATG’s West End portfolio includes the Apollo Victoria, Duke of York’s, Fortune, Harold Pinter, Lyceum, Phoenix, Piccadilly, Playhouse, Savoy and Trafalgar Studios.

History of the building goes back to 1765 when it opened as the house for the exhibitions of The Society of Artists. The theatre became the licensed house in 1809, before it was leased for various entertainments including first London exhibition of waxworks displayed by Madame Tussauds. The edifice was rebuilt in 1816 and opened as the English Opera House destroyed by the fire 14 years later, in 1830. New building was built in 1834 and named Theatre Royal Lyceum and English Opera House. In late 1830s and early 1840s the theatre produced English Opera. In late 1840s and 1950s the house became associated with adaptations of Charles Dickens’ novels, with Dickens himself working as consultant in 1860. 1870s to the end of the 19th century is the era of legendary Sir Henry Irving and Dame Ellen Terry. After change in management in 1904 the theatre was rebuilt and ornamented in rococo style. In 1939 the London city council bought the building to demolish it and make road improvement. Road improvement plans failed and the theatre reopened in 1945 as Lyceum Ballroom, hosting Miss World beauty pageant every year from 1951 to 1968. The building was used as a concert venue in 1970s and 1980s. In 1996 the building was restored and converted into a theatre for large-scale musicals or opera with Jesus Christ Superstar on run in 1996-1998. The theatre has been home to The Lion King since 1999.



The Lion King, the musical is based on the 1994 Disney animated film with the same name. I don’t think there is anyone who does not know the plot but I will put the storyline in a few words just to refresh your mind if you have not watched the movie for a while. The story evolves in an African savanna, where the King Mufasa and Queen Sarabi have just had a cub, Simba. Simba is to become the future king of the pride lands and that puts Scar, his uncle in a bad position. Scar makes a plan to get rid of Mufasa and Simba to become the King. He uses Simba to trap Mufasa in a wildebeest stampede and kills him, while making Simba believe that it his fault and he should leave the pride lands. Scar orders his allies, the hyenas to follow Simba and kill him and announces to lion pride that both Mufasa and Simba died in an accident and declares himself the King. However, hyenas fail to kill Simba and he runs to the jungle where he makes friends with Timon the meerkat and Pumba the warthog. While Simba is growing up and enjoying his Hakuna Matata (no worries) lifestyle in the jungle, the pride lands are hit by drought and lions are left with no food under Scar’s rule as now they have to share food with hyenas. Nala, Simba’s childhood friend leaves the pride and searches for help outside the pride lands when she comes across Pumba in the jungle and intends to eat him. Nala is stopped by Simba who gets into fight with her and they suddenly recognise each other. Nala tells Simba the unfortunate situation they have to put up with under Scar’s rule and reminds him of his duty as the King. Simba still feels the guilt for his father’s death and does not want go back to the pride lands, but he is encouraged by his father’s spirit to return to his duty. Nala, Timon and Pumba  join Simba in his fight against Scar and the hyenas. Scar admits killing Mufasa and renounces the thrown but blames the hyenas for all his faults; the hyenas hear him and kill him when he is left alone. Simba becomes the King of the pride lands with Nala as her queen and they have a cub.



The musical debuted July 8, 1997 in Minneapolis and was shortly transferred to Broadway. The music was created by Sir Elton John and Sir Tim Rice wrote lyrics. Hans Zimmer is the author of musical score and Lebo M created choral arrangements.

Producer: Disney Theatrical Productions (Thomas Schumacher – President)

Director: Julie Taymor

Casting: Pippa Ailion

020 7738 7556

Unit 67B, Eurolink Business Centre, 49 Effra Road, London, SW2 1BZ

The Lion King holds open auditions twice a year. The most recent one was 11 November. Details about the open auditions can be found on their website.



Amazon Tickets again! £52.5 for the first row in the Grand Circle. I think the best seats are the in the front row of the Royal Circle if you can afford £100 tickets, otherwise first row in the Grand Circle has a perfect view on the whole splendour of the show.

Running time is 2 hours and 30 minutes.


The Theatre Rat

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