Disney’s The Lion King Sets West End Reopening Dates

This post was originally published on Playbill - News

Written by: Dan Meyer

The king will return soon. Disney Theatrical Productions’ The Lion King will reopen in London’s West End this summer. Performances will begin July 29 at the Lyceum Theatre, where it’s played for the past 21 years.

“At The Lion King, we have always considered ourselves to be one big family, and to be coming back together after being separated for so long will be a truly happy moment,” said Shaun Escoffery, who plays Mufasa. “We cannot wait to be back on stage. When the opening bars of ‘Circle of Life’ play out, I don’t believe there will be a dry eye anywhere in the theatre.”

The reopening plan was made in accordance with the U.K. Government’s latest COVID-19 protocols, which aims to end social distancing guidelines by June 21 to allow full capacity within theatres. While some productions have decided to play to reduced capacity houses in the meantime, many—particularly large-scale shows such as The Lion King—are making the call to wait for a more financially viable timeline.

The Lion King first premiered on Broadway in 1997 before expanding to over two dozen stagings around the world. Julie Taymor directed and designed the costumes and masks for the production, with a score by Elton John and Tim Rice and a book by Roger Allers, adapted from the 1994 Disney animated film.

Tickets will go on sale March 31 at 8 AM ET via TheLionKing.co.uk.

How Did Julie Taymor Come Up With the Mask Designs for Each Lion King Character?

How Did Julie Taymor Come Up With the Mask Designs for Each Lion King Character?

The Tony-winning director and costume designer reveals the one-word ideograph that allowed her to translate animated characters into captivating onstage creatures.


<i>The Lion King</i>

Tony-winning director and costume designer of The Lion King Julie Taymor explains the inspiration behind the show’s mask designs and puppetry magic.
Joan Marcus


L. Steven Taylor

(L. Steven Taylor as Mufasa) Taymor says, “Obviously, Mufasa is the sun. That’s why you have the circle. He’s very much about symmetry and radiation—the sun god.” Watch Taylor get into character here.
Marc J. Franklin



Jelani Remy as Simba. “Simba and Nala are in that world of Mufasa,” of symmetry and circularity.
Joan Marcus


Fifth Harmont Lion King 05 HR.jpg

Adrienne Walker as Nala
Bruce Glikas/Playbill


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Max Casella as Timon. “Timon is a meerkat, so he’s very skittish and fast,” says Taymor. “What we’re doing is a technique where Timon is attached—it’s more like something else in Japan, where one person is attached to the puppet.
Marcus Woollen/MTI


Fred Berman and Ben Jeffrey

(Ben Jeffrey as Pumbaa) “Pumbaa is the belly,” says Taymor. “So the major part of his head is right there in front of him [on the actor], so he’s always wanting to eat.”
Joan Marcus


Jeffrey Kuhn as Zazu

(Jeffrey Kuhn) “The man who is manipulating Zazu is dressed like a butler,” says Taymor. “So he’s a bird, but a butler. He’s got tailcoats, which is tail feathers. The bowler hat—it’s that British bowler comedian thing.”

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