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The perfect theatre trip to London

PUBLISHED: 12:42 27 June 2016 | UPDATED: 12:42 27 June 2016

Andile Gumbi (Simba) in Disney's The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre, London

Andile Gumbi (Simba) in Disney's The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre, London

Copyright: Johan Persson

Looking for a London theatre trip with the perfect logistics for a relaxed dinner and a stroll to the theatre? Nicholas Roberts is pretty sure he has found the answer, and is still purring about it

Lobby BarLobby Bar

If you are anything like me, few things brighten up the calendar as you are looking ahead than a date in the diary highlighted for a trip into London to see a show. London’s West End is famed throughout the world for the quality and diversity of its theatre productions and, even from north Essex, we are lucky in this part of the world to be able to reach this magical theatreland of imagination in less than 90 minutes.

However, in the past I have found one thing that can take the shine of a trip like this is the logistics in London itself. Finding the right hotel and the right place to eat to make the evening special, but also not feeling rushed before your chosen show, is not always easy. That was until I discovered the One Aldwych hotel, a luxury retreat in the heart of London’s Covent Garden that offers easy access to a choice of West End theatres and a divine pre-theatre dining menu with fast, friendly and efficient service – perfection.

The fabulous Indigo restaurant is famous for its gluten and dairy-free cuisine, while the buzzing Lobby Bar or the guests only Lounge At One are perfect places for a pre or post-theatre cocktail – try the amazing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-themed Champagne Charlie cocktail if you are looking for a real showstopper! Then, the morning after the show there is still the 18-metre chlorine-free swimming pool and spa to explore before you step out onto the streets of Central London again for the widest possible choice of shops, cafes and museums.

But what about the show itself? I chose the One Aldwych because I’d picked The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre, which is literally just across the road from the hotel. And what an absolutely incredible spectacle it was. Since its UK premiere in London in 1999, The Lion King has entertained more than 13 million theatregoers and remains the West End’s best-selling stage production. It is currently the sixth longest-running West End musical of all time.

Julie Taymor, one of the world’s most innovative directors, brought something quite unique to The Lion King, exploring classic myths through ritualised puppetry, mask and movement. The Lion King was the first musical she directed in the commercial theatre and she made Broadway history by becoming the first woman to win the Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical.

The show’s full creative team reunited in 1999 to recreate the show in London. The original score from the animated film was expanded for the stage and now features 15 musical numbers. As well as writing completely new songs, South African composer Lebo M created an evocative blend of African rhythms and chorales, with additional material by Julie Taymor and Mark Mancina. Elton John and Tim Rice have also added three new numbers to the five that they wrote for the award-winning score of the animated film.

It all creates a most incredible theatrical experience and the audience has a palpable buzz as it acknowledges that it is witnessing something quite magical. This is a show that gives you a warm glow inside – and the glow comfortably lasts all the way across the road and back to the One Aldwych.

Travel Tips

Lyceum Theatre, 21 Wellington Street, London, WC2E 7RQ. 0844 871 3000. www.thelionking.co.uk

The Lion King plays Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm with matinee performances on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2.30pm. Tickets are currently on sale until 2 October 2016 for individuals and 27 January 2017 for Groups.

To book your stay at the One Aldwych, visit www.onealdwych.com.

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