Sunday, December 2, 2007

king of beasts

majestic and amazing. that pretty much sums up the show pooka and i saw friday night.

through the incredible generosity of some friends (who were otherwise occupied on friday), we went to the detr*it *pera to see the stage adaptation of one of my favorite animated movies.

although there was a slight delay in the start of the show and a time crunch during intermission to attend to the needs of the body (first empty the bladder, and then begin to fill it back up again.) the whole evening was first-rate. i had no trouble finding the place, encountered no scary situations downtown, enjoyed the show, bought a souvenir, contributed to the theater charity (pooka's idea!), and most important: had a great night out with my pooka.

she enjoyed the show very much, but it took her awhile to process everything. she couldn't tell us what her favorite part was until the next day.

my favorite part? without a doubt, it was the opening scene where the animals all gather for the presentation ceremony. i'd heard about the amazing way they'd adapted the animal costumes for the people, but seeing it onstage is wholly different. from the elegant giraffes with their stilt-walking actors to the graceful gazelle cutouts carried by dancers to the imposing elephant animated by a total of 4 humans; it was regal, it was beautiful, it was moving. i cried, just a little.

the story followed the movie almost exactly, with a few pieces that were actually in the original storyboard for the movie, but got cut. i can't think of anything significant that was omitted.

the mechanics of the show were also amazing. the stage moved in several ways and included steam vents, trap doors, and a hidden basin of water. the stampede scene employed an ingenious rotary machine, and even scar's costume was dynamic. he had what appeared to be a spring-loaded 'spine' that enabled his mask to come down and cover the actor's face when he was being particularly menacing. it was entrancing. i wish i could have gotten a close up look at how it worked exactly, but that may have ruined the magic for me.

and magical it was. despite being able to clearly see the humans who portrayed the animals (especially in the case of zazu, who at one point even acts without his bird prop), i very willingly suspended my disbelief.

it was a bit of a surprise to me how closely the voices resembled those from the movie. of course, no one can duplicate the tone and resonance of mr. jones, but it was easy to imagine that mr. lane, mr. irons, mr. atkinson (and that guy who played pumbaa) were really there. excellent casting, or excellent acting, or both.

during curtain calls pumbaa gave a plea for donations to the br*adway cares foundation and apparently it struck a chord with pooka. she wanted to make a donation. maybe something is sinking in after all.

i wanted to get a nice dessert after the show to cap off our mommy-pooka evening of elegance, but it was after 11 when the curtain fell, so we made a quick stop at the inelegant mcd's and then headed home.

dessert or no, it was a lovely evening.

hakuna matata.