Sunday, July 12, 2009


I've always considered Disney's "The Lion King" to be one of the best of the family cartoons, so when my mother (bless her heart) bought us all tickets to see the touring version of the Broadway musical for our birthdays this year, I was expecting to enjoy myself. I was not expecting to be gobsmacked.

If you have children, or at least someone young at heart who can sit through a 3 hour musical theater experience, this is an awfully good show to see. Even if you don't, however, I still recommend it. This is an amazingly staged production that you should see if you have the slightest interest in animals, Africa, music, puppetry, stagecraft, costumery, makeup, dance, masks, or percussion. Don't get me wrong: if you didn't like the original animated feature, this is probably not going to change your mind, but otherwise, it is a sound investment of both time and money. Thanks to Nanny's generosity, we had very good seats (5th row on the floor, off to one side) so we could see everything going on, both on the stage and occasionally in the aisles.

The addition of even more African and African-inspired music, complete with singing and dancing helped me to forget that what I was watching was product designed by a clever corporation, and just enjoy the experience. My sister said she thought Fenya was going to end up one row further ahead because of the way she kept edging forward in her seat; I am not sure she ever touched the seatback.

Glory also mused a lot about the ages of the actors who portrayed young Simba and Nala, who it turns out were both 11 years old. We talked at length about how much work it is to put on a show like that, as well as the amount of rehearsing that would need to be done, and how some actors (the understudies) have to learn another part as well, so they can play that role if the original actor can't go on for some reason.

With both girls going to a school with a focus on performing and visual arts this fall, I was really grateful for the opportunity to show them how powerful a live story can be, and how much effort is required to pull one off. The cast and crew of "The Lion King" made it look easy, but it was great that we were close enough to see them sweat.

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