These Facts About The Magic Behind The Lion King Will Make You Say WOW

16 October 2017, 17:06 | Updated: 16 October 2017, 17:17

The Lion King West End

By Alice Westoby

The Lion King has been in the West End for nearly 20 years and here are some of the secrets behind its magic...

It's a fact that there's not many people out there with a bad word to say about The Lion King.

Whether you're a super fan that knows all the words to 'The Circle Of Life' or somebody who quite liked the Disney animation as a child, it's a musical that transcends generations and is full of that legendary Disney magic we all know and love.

The live musical version at London's Lyceum Theatre has been wowing West End audiences for 18 years, but have you ever stopped to wonder how they bring the wonders of Africa and Pride Rock to the stage?

We're about to let you in on a few little secrets...

1. The masks and many of the puppets used in The Lion King are constructed using carbon fibre 

Carbon fibre is a tough but lightweight material to make it easy for the actors to move and dance with their props which were all designed by costume designer, Julie Taymor. This is also the material used to make Formula 1 cars.

The Lion King West End

2. The largest animal in the show is the elephant

The Elephant puppet - nicknamed Bertha by the backstage crew - is 13 feet long and 9 feet wide. It requires four actors to walk her around the stage.

3. All the make up used in the show is by MAC

But this isn't any old make up that you can pick up at your local branch. The brushes to apply the make up are specially designed by MAC for The Lion King and its actors specific make up requirements to make application as easy as possible.

The Lion King West End

4. The smallest animal in the show is 5 inches tall

The smallest puppet used in the whole show is a trick mouse that lives in the end of Scar's cane and is as big as an iPhone.

5. The huge head dresses worn by Mufasa and Scar are incredibly light

They might look heavy from where the audience is sitting but Mufasa's mask weighs a mere 11 ounces and Scar's mask is even lighter at 7 ounces. 

The Lion King West End

6. It took a total of 37,000 hours to build all the props for the show

Making the puppets and masks used in The Lion King took a very long time, this is no surprise as many of them are hand made and there are a whopping total of 231 puppets in the show. 

7. There are six African languages used in the show

To authentically capture the essence and heritage of Africa which is where Pride Rock is located, six different indigenous languages are spoken. These are Swahili, Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Tswana and Congolese.

 The Lion King West End

If you've seen the show these secrets of the stage will definitely give you a new found appreciation of the power of theatre and give you an idea how Africa can be brought to life in such a colourful way.

And if you haven't seen the show, what are you waiting for?