The Lyceum Theatre London

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The Lyceum Theatre has an incredibly rich history dating back to 1834 when it first opened its doors to the public. The theatre was originally designed and opened by Samuel Beazley and has undergone many alterations and rebuilds in its time. Most notably, the work that was carried out by the architects C. J. Phipps in 1882 and Bertie Crewe in 1904. However, it has always retained its iconic façade and the incredible Portico is still that of the original Samuel Beazley Theatre.

The predecessor to the current Lyceum was opened in 1772 and was used as an exhibition room and concert hall. From 1802 to 1809, it was in this building that Madame Tussaud exhibited the first collection of waxworks ever to be shown in London.

The Original Lyceum

The first theatre to be named the Lyceum was built by the side of the present theatre in 1794. The main entrance to the original Lyceum was on the Strand and opposite Lancaster place (formerly Wellington Street). Sadly the original Lyceum was destroyed in a fire on the 16th of February 1830. The Lyceum tavern now stands on the site of the original Lyceum and has a similar look to the old theatre. A new theatre was built on the current site and was named the Lyceum in honour of the theatre that burnt down.

The newly built Lyceum officially opened on the 14th of July 1834 and was managed by Sir Henry Irving until 1902. In 1879, Charles Dickens's junior wrote about the Lyceum in his 'Dickens's Dictionary of London', noting: ‘It is one of the prettiest houses in London, and, while large enough to enable the poetical drama, even in the case of the heaviest Shakespearean play, to be effectively mounted, is not too large for the requirements of a modern audience.’

The Lyceum Cinema

Frederick Melville briefly converted the theatre to a cinema in 1937, however this was to be a short-lived and expensive exercise and after building a projection booth that remains in place today, lowering the auditorium's floor and re-seating and re-carpeting at a cost of nearly £12,000, the cinema was converted back to a theatre after just one month. The only film to be shown at the converted cinema was film 'The Gang Show' which opened on the 13th of April.

The Lion King The Lion King

The Lion King

The Lyceum was finally restored to its former glory and reopened by H.R.H. Prince Charles on the 31st October 1996 with a new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Jesus Christ Superstar'. Since 1999 the Lyceum has been the home of the London production the Disney musical ‘The Lion King'. Julie Taymor’s hugely popular production, based on Disney’s classic animated film, is still packing them after sixteen years at the Lyceum and now ranks as the longest running show in the theatre’s history. Featuring music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice, ‘The Lion King’ evokes the vibrancy and splendor of the Serengeti in spectacular fashion and remains one of the West End’s biggest and best shows.

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