Being 9 Years Old All Over Again


I am not ashamed to admit I sobbed like my heart was breaking when Mufasa, Emperor of the Pride Lands fell to his death, pushed by that awful Scar. And my 9 year old heart did break. It was one of the saddest things I had ever experienced.

So when my 26 year old self bought tickets to The Lion King – the Broadway musical, I thought I would never cry at a Broadway musical. I mean, it’s a play after all, it’s just acting. Yes, yes I know, my logical powers confound even me at times.

What pish posh. I was so wrong.

When I reached the Sands Theater, I was charmed by the drum sets on the high rise platforms on either side of the stage, African artwork being displayed through gobos on the stage curtains, and on the sides of the theater. Super poor quality picture below.

We waited for a while, the show started about 10 minutes past the scheduled hour. But when I heard the standard announcement about turning off our mobile phones, I knew we were in for something truly special, the voice was tinged by humor, mischief, and all things Africa.

Without further warning, the curtain was drawn, all the stage lights came on, and this African warrior dressed in all shades of red, beads and feathers, with the most marvelous head piece I have ever seen, wailed that one soul piercing note to start the famous ‘Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba’ (English translation: Here comes a lion, father’) line to Circle of Life, and I forgot everything else. It was just me, that brilliant colored stage, and Rafiki.

As the Circle of Life built to a crescendo, there was a collective gasp in the audience as a huge elephant (half powered by man, half by robotics) lumbered down the aisles followed by the most brilliantly colored birds and wildlife all dancing and singing. My jaw by now had dropped to the floor as I mutely sat in my seat trying to take in everything at once. It seriously was too much color and sheer awesomeness to be processed all at once. I felt 9 years old all over again. And uh oh, I was getting all moist eyed.

The most memorable performances were those of Mufasa, Zazu, Rafiki, Timon, Pumbaa and the bored, yet ambitious, delightfully evil Scar, played by charismatic Englishman, Patrick Page. I was slightly disappointed by the Can you Feel the Love Tonight rendition, I thought the actress’ voice was too deep and hoarse for a song that is romantic and playful, and frankly, the movie version is the one that will stay with me forever. But Patrick Page’s energetic singing of Be Prepared and Rafiki’s inspiring version of He Lives in You were tight, full of the musical nuances from Elton John and Tim Rice that we have come to expect.

Basically, what I am trying to say is this – Go watch The Lion King on stage. It will stay with you forever, as you laugh (and cry) with Simba on his journey from young cub with a mild ‘rawr’ to a magnificent lion with a goosebumps inducing ROAR.

Here are some favorite lines of dialogue that have etched themselves on my brain:

The three hilarious Hyenas: ‘No King, no King, lalalalalalalala’

Scar: ‘IDIOTS, There will be a King. I will be King!’

Pumbaa (on seeing a upset Simba): He looks Blue.

Timon: Nah, I’d say more of an orange-red.

Pumbaa (pointing at the stars): Ever wonder what those sparkly dots are up

Timon: Pumbaa. I don’t wonder; I know.

Pumbaa: Oh. What are they?

Timon: They’re fireflies. Fireflies that uh… got stuck up on that big… bluish-black… thing.

Rafiki: Ahhh. Change is good.

Simba: Yeah, but it’s not easy. I know what I have to do.
But, going back means I’ll have to face my past. I’ve
been running from it for so long.

{Rafiki whacks Simba on the head with his staff.}
Oww! Jeez– What was that for?
Rafiki: It doesn’t matter; it’s in the past! {laughs}
Simba: {Rubbing head} Yeah, but it still hurts.
Rafiki: Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or… learn from it.

A lesson never better taught.

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