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From the 18th century to today, the Lyceum Theatre has enjoyed an epic history. Previously named the English Opera House before it burned down in 1830, a variety of productions have been staged from operas to Dickens plays. The Lyceum was the site of the first London exhibition of waxworks by Madame Tussaud in 1802.
Sir Henry Irving, the first knighted actor, managed the theatre during its biggest boom years with his sell-out productions of Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice and the enormously popular Faust. In the 19th century, the Lyceum Theatre was home to the "Sublime Society of Beef Steaks" whose two dozen members met on a weekly basis to eat steak and be merry.
The theatre was converted into a cinema in 1937 with over £12,000 invested. However the owners, not realising distribution rights were required, were forced to convert it back to a theatre after just one screening. The Lyceum was one of the first theatres to be lit with gas (instead of candles). It was also the first theatre to hang a balcony over the circle seats.
Throughout the 20th century, the Lyceum went through a period as the ‘Lyceum Ballroom’ and a premium concert venue. The theatre was later refurbished in 1996 as a playhouse with a raised ceiling and new orchestra pit. The Lion King has been staged at the Lyceum since 1999.