Released in 1994 the film was part of Disney's golden years back on the top of their game following a string of worldwide smashes including The Little Mermaid, Beauty & The Beast and Aladdin. Such was the success of these films this period became known as the Disney Renaissance, when public and critical interest returned to the brand .
A powerful storyline with recognisable themes helped the film capture the world's hearts and imagination. It is influenced by the stories of Joseph and Moses in the Bible and also by Shakespeare's Hamlet so has a strong base of source material at its core. Set in a kingdom of anthropomorphic lions in Africa the story revolves around Simba, a young lion, who must take his father's place as King. When he discovers that his uncle Scar had killed his father, he must also avenge his father and prevent Scar from conquering the Pride Lands. The film went on to become the highest grossing hand-drawn movie of all time, taking over $945 million dollars worldwide. The emotional pull of the story is something that translates exceptionally well into the stage version of the show and helps it appeal right through the ages from young children to those in their twilight years. It is still the number one choice when looking for London shows for children.
The stage version opened on Broadway in 1997 winning six Tony awards. It made a triumphant transfer to the Lyceum Theatre in London in October 1999 and its still at that venue playing to packed houses - a rare achievement these days. The stunning score with music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice features songs that are immediately recognisable to excitable audience members. Can You Feel The Love Tonight, Circle Of Life, I Just Can't Wait To Be King and Hakuna Matata are just as thrilling on the London stage as they were in the original movie, and you'd be hard pushed not to be singing one after you leave the theatre. The feelgood factor is an essential ingredient for a hit West End musical, and The Lion King has it in bucketloads. There is no doubt that theatregoers will be clamouring for Lion King tickets when searching for London theatre shows for years to come - this juggernaut is showing no signs of slowing down.