Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Lion King on Broadway

or... Julia's Big Day

Julia is a huge fan of musicals, and following her Christmas present of tickets to see Les Miserables on stage earlier this year, she has been plotting and planning and watching lots of YouTube video clips of other things she would like to see. Julia doesn't have a ton of different interests, but when she gets into something, she really gets into it (and therefore it makes it impossible for us not to support it)... One of her recent obsessions has been The Lion King. Unlike Les Miz, The Lion King isn't touring, so if we saw it, it would have to be on Broadway. For Julia's recent birthday, we decided to splurge, and we got her 4 tickets (to make it a full family event) to see her new favorite show. Her birthday was a month ago, but the Saturday matinee date that made sense was this weekend, so she has been anxiously awaiting the day for weeks.

We left home at around 9am and were in the city by a little after 11am, having made great time. We knew the general location of the Minskoff Theater on Times Square, and parked nearby. As it turns out, when we walked up out of the underground garage, the first thing we saw was the Minskoff marquee, with Lion King in big bright lights. Julia was thrilled.
Big smiles

Grace and the Diners, Drive ins and Dives car
Everyone was hungry, we had time to kill and needed lunch, so we were looking for a place to eat when Grace spotted Guy Fieri's American Kitchen and Bar. Grace and I love Food Network, and she knows Guy Fieri well from all the various things we have watched, so she insisted on eating there. Which was fine with us. It was just opening at 11:30 and we were among the first in the door. Grace ooh'ed and aah'ed enough that the manager who seated us gave her a pair of Guy Fieri wristbands and a free dessert for being a big fan of Guy's. It's always nice to feel pampered, even in a small way, but if you can make my kids happy then you have made Amp and I happy. Apparently this restaurant had only been open for about a month, and we liked it a lot. The food was delicious (I had a huge roast beef sandwich with very good dippy juice). Prices were New York City appalling, but that's to be expected in a name location right off Times Square. It only hurts if you think about it, and once more when you sign the check...

Happy girls
After a nice long relaxing lunch out of the chill, we made our way to the theater and waited in line for a short while before they let us in. We had seats in the balcony, 4 or 5 rows back, right in the middle. They were good seats, with a nice view of the stage.

The show started at around 2:10pm to a packed house with lots of kids. The opening scene, "Circle of Life", is terrific, with all sorts of life sized animal "puppets" making their way to the stage from all different parts of the theater. For this part, it would have been great to be down low near the stage as the animals all came up the aisles, but our seats still had a great view, and there were performers along the sides of the balcony as well. The first act lasted about 65 minutes, followed by a 15 minute intermission that was closer to 25 minutes, and a 55 minute second act. So it was not a long show, but very impressive nonetheless.

View from our balcony seats (pre-show)
Overall the show was terrific, very faithful to the movie and therefore very familiar, and with great music, dancing and visual effects. Julia was enthralled the whole way through, and it made me very happy to look over at her at various points throughout the show and see the huge smile on her face. Today was really one of those days where I felt like a good Daddy.

If I were to have any complaint at all, and it is a minor one, it would be that the singing was hard to hear at certain points. I am not sure if this is because of how the performers were miked, or the volume of the orchestra and percussion, or the sound mixing (or our balcony seats). Independently, Amparo had the same observation, so it wasn't just my imagination. Vocal quality was fine, volume was not so much so sometimes.

Julia had a wonderful day and was very appreciative of us doing this for her. She has said over and over "I never expected anything like this for my birthday." Which makes it even more special.

By shortly after 5:30pm, we were back in the car and heading toward Amp's sister's house in north Jersey to hang out with them overnight, returning home Sunday. An A+ weekend for sure...

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