When they were tots, my two older sons, who are now 18 and 19 respectively, love the Disney cartoon The Lion King. They would watch the video tape weekly, so much so that they even knew the next line before it was spoken.
I first heard of the Lion King Musical on Oprah, when she introduced the opening act in her show in the nineties. I was awed by the amazing costumes the cast wore playing the animals. Thus when I was in New York in 2007, I grabbed the opportunity to watch the musical at Broadway during our short visit there. It did not disappoint, in fact, the experience left me on a high. I told myself if there is one experience I want to share with my kids, this is it: the high from watching a great musical.
It took four years for The Lion King Musical to come to Singapore. I decided to splurge ( on my hubby’s money) and bought the most expensive tickets in the house for the boys and my mother. Bee, who missed the show when she was in NY two years ago tagged along. Despite my repeated cajoling, my KL girlfriends did not take up my offer to join us. They had spent a bomb on The West Side Story in KL which they felt was a total disappointment and did not want a repeat performance. I guess I am still not as influential as I had thought.
The show started with a bang with the introduction to the animals living at Pride Rock. Lions, zebras, leaping gazelles, flying birds and even a life-size elephant strutted to the stage from the back of the stall. Although I was expecting it, the sight still left me gasping in awe.
The first part of the story tells the tale of Simba, the little lion cub who will take over the throne, displacing his Uncle Scar. Scar schemes to be the next King by killing his brother, Mufasa, and Simba with the help of the outcast hyenas. He lures Simba to an Elephant graveyard but luckily, Simba is saved just in time by his father. Scar next lures Simba into the middle of a wildebeest stampede where he kills Mufasa. Simba, frightened at the thought of having caused the death of his father the King, is spared by the hyenas and runs away. He meets Pumbaa and Timon who form a friendship with Simba.
Part two of the musical shows the grown up Simba. Pride Rock is now taken over by Scar and the Hyenas. The balance with the other animals is gone. The lake has dried up and there are no food. Desperate, Nala, Simba’s playmate from young, leaves on a journey for help. She meets Simba and persuades Simba to return to Pride Rock ro reclaim his throne.
The Lion King Musical has all the ingredients to make a successful musical. It’s visually stunning – the animals are portrayed with the help of costumes, puppetry, kites as flying birds, and even using Wayang Kulit, Indonesian’s shadow play. Another impressive visual is the coming together of Mufasa as a three-dimensional jigsaw. The stage did not disappoint, with liberal use of fabrics to show a flowing stream and a lake in the process of drying. The songs and music by Elton John is easy on the ear and the simple story line appeals to both young and old.
The use of local kids as the young Simba and Nala was another bond connecting the show to the audience. If you pay close attention, you may even hear a LAH, Merlion and even xie xie ni (thank you) muttered by the animals. The audience was quick to catch it and broke out in applause and laughter.
The only gripe I had that night was the numerous young kids in the audience. The little boy behind me yakked non-stop, asking questions and making comments. The little girl in front of me was asked by the usher to sit down but she remained standing the whole time.
Did my family enjoy themselves?
Mom: Very good.
Bee: Worth the money.
Ivan: Where is the Lion King CD, or is it video tape, i want to watch the cartoon again. (We have the video tape but no player!)