Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hakuna Matata

...if that doesn't ring a bell, either you have not seen Disney's Lion King movie or you just need me to refresh your memory. It's one of the classics that was always dear to my heart and when I knew the broadway musical was playing in London, I decided to make it one of my first stops for two reasons, the great reviews and how everyone says that going to theatre in London in a must-do.

It was a typical London evening...windy, slightly cold when my friend and I rode the tube and landed in Covent Garden and marched right in to the hustle and bustle of the city. A short walk from there would get us to the Lyceum theatre, but wading through hordes of people (even for someone who is used to Ranganathan Street) was not easy. We made it in the nick of time and didn’t even pause to admire the theatre interior (which I did after the show) when a voice announced ‘the show will commence in 2 minutes’ and it started right on the dot at 7:30 pm.

I was very surprised to see how packed the theatre was given that the Lion King Musical had been running since 1997! A google search had revealed that the show lasts 2 hours and 40 minutes and since it was my first time in a theatre watching a musical, I was a little skeptical, but when we finally had the interval after 1.2 hours, I realized my legs had gone numb since I had crossed them and had not changed position for the entire time – now you know how engrossed I was!!

The opening itself was brilliant...you remember the movie right? The sun, the animals, the music – well it was the same and this time the effect was doubled because it was live and you never realized it was people playing the animals. When a couple of giraffes walk across the stage, you don’t notice that they are people on stilts with really long giraffe-neck hats until you stop to wonder how they actually do it! The elephants actually walked through the audience to get to the stage!

The characters who played it were perfect – the little Simbha and Nala adorable, the grown up versions perfectly fitting the mills-and-boon description (for the animal world, ofcourse :D), the father Mufasa commanding, his brother Scar charmingly wicked ! I thought the idea of all the people wearing huge masks as hats was brilliant because it made them look like real characters without unduly covering their faces with paints and masks ! The photo shows Simbha and you can see the lion's mask-cum-hat he is wearing (wonder if there is a another word for this).

The stampede in the which Mufasa is killed deserves special mention for how realistic it was – you can imagine trying to create a 1000 animal stampede on a 100sq.m stage. Hakuna matata doesn’t disappoint one bit, the colors, the music, the formations – everything is a treat to the eyes and ears! Like in movies, the interval was exactly at the right moment, when little Simbha grows up to a handsome young man…err…lion and you cant help but grin thinking of the plight of the villain when Simbha manages to catch up with him….it so looks like the beginning of a happily-ever-after !

During the interval, the only snack we managed to find was springles and I was cursing myself for buying it and more so for not eating it during the break itself since the crunchy noise was distracting me from the dialogues :D!

The Meercat Timon with his humor and sarcasm and Pumba, the warthog completely live up to expectations. Simbha meeting Nala again and falling in love is shown with a clichéd but still enjoyable dance sequence. The scene where Simbha hears his father talk to him and realises that he should go back to his kingdom definitely deserves a special mention, was well thought out and well presented. I thought the climax was handled a bit hapazhardly and there were so many things happening in the scene that if you saw one, you missed the others….oh..well..am just being picky !

I should mention this chubby African lady who begins the show with a high pitched note (reminded me of the kulavai satham in tamil movies). She was sort of the narrator but she did more than narrate, she cracked me up every time she came on the screen with her antics!

I usually stay away from reviews and try to watch movies, esp. those that are acclaimed as good, without knowing even a bit about the plot and if possible, the cast, since that helps me enjoy the movie immensely. But in this case, although I knew what was going to happen, I still couldn’t wait to see how they actually did it! Not only did the show leave me very impressed but it also painted a nice picture for a Broadway musical in my mind…next time someone invites me to one, I won’t think twice about it.

Copyright for pictures: Disney
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