Sunday, 17 June 2012

LIFE OVERSEAS: Magic of Musicals

“THE circle of life” may be a common phrase or it could strike a totally different chord with different people. If you love cartoons, especially Disney classics, you will know that very line is the theme for The Lion King released in 1994. That it is my birth year makes The Lion King all the more special.

The animated movie is one of my favourite Disney films. The original soundtrack of the movie is stuck in my head and I can even remember its script. I was admitted to hospital when I was a toddler. It happened to be on the day that all the child patients gathered in the television room and a lucky one got to choose a movie. For some reason, I had the privilege of doing so and out of the thousands of movies available, I chose good old The Lion King.

The Lion King in 3-D was released in the cinemas last October, I immediately went to see Zazu fly and Pumbaa’s large bottom. I was tempted to burst into song in the cinema. Then I learnt that The Lion King the Musical was going to be staged in London.

What could be more magical than watching a stage version of my favourite animated movie? I scavenged for funds to buy a ticket to The Lion King at West End. As it is one of the hottest musicals in London, I made sure I got a seat in the front stalls in Lyceum Theatre in London.

So, last May 16, after my flight from Ireland, I took the Tube to Leicester Square and made my way to the theatre. I anxiously queued up to collect my booked tickets from the counter and excitedly bounced into the theatre. I sat at row X seat 15 by the aisle. Thankfully, the rows of seats were designed in a slanted way to ensure that everyone is able to see the stage clearly.

The lights were a comforting orangey glow and I could see African drums situated at both sides of the stage in the balconies. Bursting with glee, I waited excitedly for the musical to begin. Music began to play and, to my utter surprise, the animals began to appear in step with the beautiful harmonies! They actually walked among the audience!

The costumes were stunning. Giraffes were created by adding neck extensions and stilts to both the performer’s hands and feet. There was even an elephant controlled by several people. I was truly in awe, my jaw dropped half the time. The dances were an exotic fusion of traditional African dance, martial arts, ballet and more. The singing was mind-blowing as you heard all the lovely five-part harmonies in the background with powerful projection.

 The actors and actresses were amazingly talented and my favourite was Rafiki, the baboon. Rafiki was played by a woman who was oozing with entertainment. She won over the audience with her mellifluous chanting of incomprehensible words. It was money well spent indeed. It is interesting to see the way things can evolve from an idea into a drawing, a movie, a 3-D animation and a musical.

The magic of a musical is indescribable indeed.

The writer is studying at a high school in Ireland.
She loves to try all things but is a Malaysian at heart

Read more: Life overseas: Magic of musicals - You - New Straits Times

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