There has been a theatre in the Covent Garden area called the Lyceum since 1765. The theatre has been used for a host of activities in the last 247 years and is one of the UK’s most prominent and important theatres.
The current Lyceum Theatre is an amalgamation of styles and eras. The ‘English Opera House’ as the Lyceum was then known burnt down in 1830 and construction of the new ‘Theatre Royal Lyceum & English Opera House’ began in 1834, the only part of the original building left is the main portico pillared entrance.
In 1878, Henry Irving took over as the Theatre Manager and appointed Mr Bram Stoker as his Business Manager. Bram Stocker is famous for writing ‘Dracula’ which was written within the walls of the Lyceum during 1897 and Irving provided real life inspiration for the character.
In 1904, the theatre was re-built as it currently is by Bertie Crewe. The theatre played host to a range of melodramas until the Lyceum was bought by London City Council in 1939 who had plans to demolish the building along with the Aldwych, Novello, Vaudeville and Adelphi theatres to make way for road improvements. The theatre closed in 1939 with a landmark performance of Hamlet starring Sir John Gielgud in the title role.
Luckily, the road improvement plans collapsed and the theatre re-opened after the war as the ‘Lyceum Ballroom’. Over the years many big bands and stars performed on the Lyceum stage including The Who, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Queen and Prince, who played his first UK gig here in 1981.
The Lyceum Theatre was Grade II listed in 1978 to prevent further demolition plans and from 1996 was given a new lease of life by the Apollo Leisure Group after a £15 million refurbishment. Since that time the theatre has played host to shows such as Jesus Christ Superstar and Oklahoma! and is currently home to Disney’s The Lion King.
The Lyceum Theatre is owned and operated by The Ambassador Theatre Group.
Have you ever wondered what goes on backstage? The Lyceum Theatre has been home to Disney's The Lion King for 18 years and there are plenty of secrets to discover. Discover what it takes to reimagine a beloved film into a a spectacular theatrical experience.