Monday, March 19, 2007

Wide, Wonderful World

Yesterday I went to the Bass Concert Hall on the UT Campus to see The Lion King. It was an extraordinary experience. The story of the stage production is the same as that of the animated movie, with music by Elton John and Tim Rice. There the resemblance ends. The costumes and stage sets have to be seen to be believed. The actors portraying the various animals are seen and heard in their own costumed personas, but each works with a mask or puppet that take over and you stop seeing the actors and start seeing the characters almost immediately. The casting was superb, the singing lively and energetic, the dancing outstanding and the staging awesome.

In the first few minutes of Act 1, various animals come down the aisles of the theater. This included antelopes, zebras, and a humongous elephant. In the first few minutes of Act 2, colorful birds flew over the heads of the audience, with the puppeteers sprinkled throughout the auditorium and the balconies. The heavily child-populated audience was spellbound.

Whatever else you say about Disney, they know how to put on a good show. The Disney of today may be more concerned with making a buck than the one I grew up with, but they still know how to entertain.

The one I grew up with gave me many enjoyable moments when my parents took me to see Sleeping Beauty, 101 Dalmatians, The Absent Minded Professor, Pollyanna, and hundreds of Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck cartoons. I went to see Old Yeller, too, but I can't say I enjoyed it. It may be a good movie, but my little heart was broken at the end. Terrible thing to show a child. I still won't watch that movie.

I can remember being completely taken with Sleeping Beauty. I was treated to a charm bracelet promotional item that was sold at the screening. I wish I still had that bracelet. For my fifth birthday, one of the few where I actually had a real party with kids, I received a set of paper dolls and I played Sleeping Beauty happily for a long time, until the dolls fell apart from use.

I have another clear memory of a Saturday afternoon long ago. I was preparing to watch the Disney show and my father was preparing to hand-crank a freezer of home-made ice cream. We set up shop in front of the television and I sat on the freezer to hold it down while he cranked. I remember distinctly watching a Goofy cartoon with a cold rear end. Funny how things connect in your mind. I seldom think of the Disney show without thinking about ice cream.

I've had a lot of enjoyment watching Disney movies. I have quite a few in my DVD collection today. I would much rather watch The Sword in the Stone than some bloody, gory adult movie any day. Good entertainment is good entertainment whether you are six or sixty and Disney can usually be counted on for good entertainment.

Those were the days of Hakuna Matata.


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