Swept Away by the Magic of the Lion King

Monday, April 11, 2016


I love the quote, "If we could all see the world through the eyes of a child, the world would be a most magical place."  I was lucky enough to experience that this weekend - seeing the world through the eyes of a child - and I can assure you, it was magical.

If you haven't already, I hope today's post will encourage you to take advantage of the last week to experience the magic of the Lion King at Proctor's Theater in Schenectady...or at a theater near you. I am not a big theater goer, so when I do go, I really get caught up in the experience.  We saw Peter Pan with Cathy Rigby a couple of years ago at Proctor's, and I still remember the flood of emotions when Peter Pan came to meet Wendy's children and taught them all to fly.  I remember how powerful an emotional experience it was when the crescendo of finale music lifted me to the magical place that is usually reserved for children.  Good theater does that and the Lion King took me to that same magical place.

This time, however, we not only had the pleasure of my mom's company (she's an eternal kid herself) but got to take Elena, our 5 1/2 old granddaughter as well.  If you have a five year old in your life, you know what little sponges they are....interested in everything, enthusiastic and wide-eyed, fully surrendering to the experience, ready to be whisked away under the spell of it all.  Children are not cynical or serious, they trust and believe and let the spirit move them. I doubt any adult in the jam-packed audience yesterday would have been able to resist being drawn into Simba's world as well.  I know I couldn't and when the finale music played, my heart felt happy and had I allowed, happy tears could have easily escaped.  The Lion King is everything you've heard and then some.

courtesy of lionking.Wikia.com

Nala-Rafiki-Simba - Courtesy of DisneyBroadway.com

Based on the 1994 Disney animated movie with music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice, the musical features actors in animal costumes, as well as giant puppets.  Now this may sound cheesy, but I can assure you it is not.  From the moment the 'animals' make their entrance, you forget 'the costume' and watch the story unfold as 'animals' experience the Circle of Life.  The musical first debuted in 1997 at the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis, MN, before appearing on Broadway and was an immediate success.  It is the third longest running show on Broadway and the highest grossing Broadway production of all time (according to Wikipedia).  Lion King won a Tony for Best Musical in 1998 as well as 70 major theater awards internationally.  There have been 27 global productions around the world.  Lion King has been seen by over 80 million people, worldwide.  In September 2014, Lion King became the top earning title in box-office history for both stage production and film, surpassing the record previously held by Andrew Lloyd Weber's Phantom of the Opera which was the first to gross over $6 billion.   After experiencing Lion King, I am not surprised.
Zazu -Courtesy of DisneyBroadway.com
Having seen the animated version, it's hard to even imagine how producers would represent the characters of the movie - the entire cast of animals.  (If you haven't seen it, be sure to use the links provided at the end of this post to watch some videos about this production).  What the creators dreamed up was nothing short of amazing, awe-inspiring and truly unforgettable.  Although there is no bad seat in Proctor's, I was happy to have spent a little extra for closer seats because we were able to see and appreciate the colors and details in the costumes up close, as well as facial expressions of the human actors within those costumes, some of which are mechanically equipped.  Combine the colorful characters, catchy music, humor and theater magic, it's no wonder that from the very initial curtain drop and every curtain drop until nearly the end, Elena would ask, "is it over?"  In the beginning she asked, "How long is it Grandma?  Hours are better than minutes, so I want it to last hours."  Throughout the production, Elena sat - eyes as big as saucers, totally entranced with the pageantry, under the spell of a lion named Simba and the cast of characters who brought this story to life. I have to admit, even I was more than a little disappointed when the curtain dropped and it was sadly, really over.

If you have the chance to see Lion King before it leaves town next week, I strongly urge you to do so. It is unforgettable and whether you're 5 or 95, you'll love every minute.  I could sit through it again today and never be bored.  Oh....one interesting tidbit to share.  Yesterday at church our Pastor continued his 'Breaking Free' series, yesterday's topic being 'Breaking Free from Worry'.   Pastor preached about the letting go of our worries and trusting God. You can imagine my reaction when it came time for the famous warthog and meerkat to sing Hakuna Matata, (Listen here). The music begins and John and I just looked at each other and smiled because, well............Hakuna Matata, as Timon and Puumba explain, means "no worries".   Obviously God was at work in the Disney production of Lion King since even Tim Rice and Elton John seemed to be preaching about breaking free from your worries when they wrote this song.  Don't you just love it when your Sunday sermon follows you out of church?  I do!
Mom, Elena and John in front of the Lion King Trailer
If getting to Proctor's this week is not in the cards for you, check out the links below to view some videos from the show, as well as interviews behind the scenes with the costume designer, some actors and producers.  Be sure to check out other videos on YouTube as well.  In the meantime, have a look at these videos.  I know you'll be moved to call Proctor's today.  Seats are still available and shows continue through Sunday, April 18th.  Thanks for reading.  Come back soon to Life As I See It.


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2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Swept Away by the Magic of the Lion King”

  1. Great review, Gail! Lion King is one of my family's favorite shows :) So glad you got a chance to enjoy it with your granddaughter--what a special time--

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  2. Thanks Diana....I never really think of posts as reviews...not a connoisseur to be 'reviewing'. But that doesn't stop me from telling my experiences ;) And yes...what a blessing it is to have the grandchildren back from Indiana and to be able to enjoy big things like this and little blessings like church on Sunday with them! I'm a lucky Grandma!

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