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The Butterfly Lion

By Michael Morpurgo 
In a new adaptation by Anna Ledwich

Minerva TheatreTickets
Family Friendly
Price: from £15



Thrilling, heart-wrenching drama. You’re in for a treat


Undoubtedly the highlight of the 2019 summer season

Chichester Observer

Visually bewitching

The Stage

A must-see

Portsmouth News

It makes the heart sing

Frost Magazine

A show full of theatrical surprises

Susan Elkin for Sardines Magazine

Exquisite, captivating and enchanting


When Bertie is sent away from the African farm of his childhood to school in England, he leaves behind not only his beloved mother and the beautiful land, swarming with wildlife, but also his best friend – a white lion he rescued as a cub.

Bertie’s struggle to adjust to his new life in harsh, grey England is alleviated only by a chance friendship with the equally lonely Millie and his dreams of his treasured lion, now trapped in a French circus. But their remarkable journey is only just beginning, and the pair are destined to meet again.

The Butterfly Lion combines music, design and puppetry to bring a magical adventure to life: celebrating nature, friendship and the triumph of love.

Based on Michael Morpurgo’s best-selling novel, which won the Smarties Prize and the Writers’ Guild Award, this new stage adaptation is written by CFT’s Writer-in-Residence Anna Ledwich and directed by Dale Rooks whose many Chichester productions include The Midnight Gang (2018) and Running Wild (2015).

Prologue 17 Lime Teal.

Prologue tickets available



Thrilling, heart-wrenching drama. You’re in for a treat. Anna Ledwich’s adaptation is sleek, muscular and fleet-footed, and the production by Dale Rooks shimmers with invention. Be warned: it’s emotionally unstinting. It’s also entirely gorgeous. Take some tissues, and enjoy.


Michael Morpurgo’s modern classic is beautifully transferred to the stage in an exceptional night at Chichester Festival Theatre - undoubtedly the highlight of the 2019 summer season. The Butterfly Lion soars because it gives us theatre at its most poignant, the theatre of longing, of hopes and dreams and memories. Dale Rooks directs with her trademark mix of sureness, intelligence and sensitivity. The result is absolutely beautiful, every last effort, every last detail rich and to be savoured.

Chichester Observer

Visually bewitching. The mane attraction is Nick Barnes’ adult lion puppet.

The Stage

The cast are excellent, the younger members outstanding. The puppet-work is sublime. I’m overjoyed to say – it’s a must-see

Portsmouth News

Dale Rooks, who runs Chichester’s excellent Learning and Participation Programme, is a stunningly good director and she squeezes every ounce of magic, emotion and delight from Anna Ledwich’s adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s novel using a large, talented cast of adults and children. A show full of theatrical surprises. The standing ovation was richly deserved.

Sardines Magazine

This exquisite, captivating and enchanting production truly dazzles with its own special magic.


Enhanced by a crack creative team (lighting by Johanna Town, sound by Gregory Clarke and video by Simon Wainright), the play’s journey, which traverses the wilds of South Africa to rural England and the battlefields of France, is a collective design triumph. Director Dale Rooks has invested such care that not even the smallest detail falls short. Making it feel as if you are watching a labour of love rather than simply an extremely polished production; her Butterfly Lion has palpable heart and soul. It makes the heart sing.

Frost Magazine

Cast & Creatives


Creative team

Dale Rooks


Simon Higlett


Johanna Town

Lighting Designer

Tom Brady


Gregory Clarke

Sound Designer

Simon Wainwright

Video Designer

Nick Barnes


Kane Husbands

Movement Director

Luyanda Lennox Jezile

Additional Music

Charlotte Sutton

Casting Director


Access performances

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Family Tickets

Family Tickets Available

You can get Half Price tickets for up to four Under 16s attending with every full priced paying adult (up to a maximum of 10 tickets). 

Family Ticket discounts (selected performances) will be applied at the checkout page. 

Please note that this discount does not apply to Saturday evenings, Previews or Press Nights or to the lowest two prices in the Festival Theatre. All tickets must be booked and paid for in a single transaction.

Family dining at CFT


Bring your children to one of our relaxed restaurants for a children's pick 'n' mix menu starting from just £3 for a freshly made soup and roll to pasta meatballs or pizza margherita for just £5.50. View sample menus here

The Foyle Terrace also offers pre-show pizzas, deli-style specials, quiches and light salads in an informal setting. 

Child Eating Icrecream Aug 2019 Web.

CFT Podcast with Michael Morpurgo

Listen to Episode 20 of our CFT Podcast series to hear from Michael Morpurgo himself, talking about where the story for The Butterfly Lion came from and how it feels to have your novels adapted for the stage.

Age Guidance 
Ages 7+
Running Time
2 hours and 5 minutes including the interval