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10 unbelievable facts about The Lion King

Thursday, 21st May 2020  

The Lion King

The Lion King has continuously played at the Lyceum Theatre for over two decades. Whether you've seen the musical or not, you'll want to check out these incredible facts about the musical phenomenon. 

With a colourful “Circle of Life” on stage, you’d expect The Lion King to be set in a faraway land. It’s set in the Serengeti, located in northern Tanzania and Kenya. It’s one of the seven wonders of Africa, and is one of the best places to observe prides of lions when on safari.

In The Lion King, Simba transforms from a young cub to King of the Pride Lands. But, did you know that Simba is the Swahili word for ‘lion’?

In the musical’s opening number, Rafiki sings part of “Circle of Life” in Zulu, a language native to South Africa that’s spoken by around 12 million people. The lyrics Rafiki sing in Zulu translate to  “Here comes a lion, father, Oh yes it’s a lion.”

There are 6 African languages used in the show. These indigenous languages include the previously-mentioned Swahili and Zulu, as well as Xhosa, Sotho, Tswana and Congolese.

The world premiere of The Lion King ​was staged in Minneapolis in July 1997 before premiering at the New Amsterdam Theatre on Broadway just three months later. It later transferred to the West End in 1999, where it's enjoyed continuous runs on both sides of the pond ever since.

“Hakuna Matata” is one of the well-known phrases from The Lion King. The animals really take “Hakuna Matata” to heart, as it’s said 25 times in the show. There’s really no time to worry for the rest of your days...

There’s lots of catchy tunes in The Lion King, but did you know the songs are composed by British music legend, Elton John. The song “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” went on to enjoy commercial success too, reaching number 11 in the British music charts.

Even though the musical was nominated for 8 Olivier Awards at the 1999 ceremony, The Lion King only won 2 categories. Julie Taymor won the best costume design award, with Garth Fagan taking the best theatre choreographer award.

In order to create all the costumes and puppets for the Broadway production of The Lion King, it took over 17,000 man hours. Over 750 pounds of silicone rubber were used to create the striking looks too, and they definitely stand out on stage!

During one performance of The Lion King, 232 puppets are used. This includes the 18-feet tall giraffes to the trick mouse at the end of Scar’s cane, which measures in at 5 inches.

Article filed under: Theatre News | Articles |