A few weeks ago, Dean saw THE LION KING for the first time. I've been looking forward to showing it to him for a long time. It was my favorite Disney movie as a teenager and young adult and has always held a special place in my heart. My college roommate and I used to quote it word for word in our dorm room. I bought my dad a hat with Pumba and Timon on it at Disney World. I think I owned the soundtrack at one point.
I remember seeing the movie in the theatre when I was about 17. Those first strains of the overture gave me chills. The animation was like nothing I'd ever seen on a big screen and the story was fantastic. I thought it was the greatest Disney creation ever.
Then I saw it on Broadway.
When I was 27, my friend Kitty and I were fairly new New Yorkers and decided to do a touristy thing one Friday night. Neither of us had seen The Lion King on Broadway, so we decided to see if we could get some standing room tickets. We stood in the "standby" line for about an hour. The box office manager came out and said that if anyone was willing to pay full price, she had a pair of house seats that had just been released. Being professional stage mangaers, we knew house seats were the best in the house, usually reserved for VIPs and company members. We quickly volunteered to pay full price and were ushered to our seats...on the FIFTH ROW. We were right in the middle of the audience, close enough to see everything. Theatre geeks that we are, we spent the time before the show began admiring the architecture of the space and trying to strain our eyes to figure out some special effects.
Then the lights dipped. The house went dark. After a brief moment, a beautiful, deep orange light appeared and the actress playing Rafiki hit that now-famous first note of "The Circle of Life." The theatre came alive. Actors dressed in elaborate costumes and handling gorgeous puppets that can only be described as absolute works of art came out of every nook and cranny in the theatre. Their voices blended perfectly. They moved gracefully toward the stage, taking our breath away with each movement.
And I wept.
It was the most beautiful moment I've ever had in the theatre because I was taken completely by surprise. My senses were overloaded and my heart was about to burst. These artists had just made magic.
As a theatre professional, I'm "in the know" as far as a lot of theatre magic goes. I know how to make people fly, where the trap doors open and how all the special effects work. To be taken by surprise is a treat for me. Fortunately, I've been able to keep my sense of wonder about me all these years to a certain extent. I always bring tissues to the theatre because,if I'm lucky, I'll get swept up in the magic and it will bring tears to my eyes. The day an overture doesn't bring me to tears is the day I need to stop doing theatre. The anticipation, the excitement, the escape from reality, the absolute magic...THAT is what makes all the long hours worth it.
Did you know we could do that?