Sunday, June 23, 2013

the circle of life.

did i tell you about the time that i went to england and i saw the lion king on broadway?

no? you sure?

well now i'm about to.

i'm real stoked about this.

so most of you know that i am absolutely obsessed with the lion king. like, incredibly obsessed.

as in i watch it three to four times a day if i have the chance. i have a nineteen year old vintage simba that i take with me to class. i listen to the broadway soundtrack obsessively.

people talk about how much they love the lion king, but i really fucking love the lion king.

pardon the language. that word just really needed to be there. for emphasis.

every year for my birthday i put "tickets to the lion king on broadway. i am not kidding." on my list.

every year for christmas i put "tickets to the lion king on broadway. i am not kidding." on my list.

i never really saw the problem with this; my great aunt and great uncle have an apartment in new york city that i stayed in when i was seventeen, and i'm sure they'd be happy to accomodate me while i flew out there to see the lion king on broadway.

not an inconvenience for anyone.

ha. ha. emily does sarcasm.

i went to england for a month to take renaissance drama. when we got to london for the back end of our trip, we were allowed to go see shows that weren't in the syllabus.

what was in the syllabus was king lear, the tempest, and as you like it (in georgian) at the globe, and some of us took a day trip to stratford to see the royal shakespeare company perform titus andronicus.

i went. i did not get covered in blood. and i did not vomit.

successful titus adronicus.

these were all prepaid by our spring term money. we also had a pretty substantial budget, and we were allowed to go see a show on our own and we'd get paid back.

it had to be cultural. something that you couldn't see in america. like the london symphony. or the opera.

well, there went my idea of seeing the lion king.

on the tube (the london underground) there are advertisements everywhere. ninety-nine percent of them are for broadway shows. i saw lots of ads for heather headley performing in the bodyguard and i wanted to go because she went to my high school and she was nala in the original lion king cast (which she won a tony for) but it was kind of expensive.

not as expensive as the lion king.

i saw signs for it all over the covent garden tube station, which made sense because the show was at covent gardens. but before i looked too much into it, i looked into seeing the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.

of course, it was sold out until june, after i'd be home in the states.

i was real pissed.

i then decided this.

1. i'm in england.
2. i have access to see a broadway show.
3. i love the lion king more than some people like breathing.
4. i have access to see a broadway show.

i decided to go see the lion king.

i got online and figured out a good night to go see it. toward the end of the class things were getting a little bit tense, you know, trying to get everything you wanted to get done, so i eventually settled on seeing it the last day in england.

may twenty-second.

i bought my ticket, took a picture of the confirmation email on my phone, and got a text alerting me that my ticket was ready to be picked up at lyceum theatre whenever i was ready. i had a week and a half before the show and i looked at the email every day.

i didn't want to wish my time in england away, and i didn't. but i kept looking at my calendar and seeing may twenty-second looming in the future and i would instantly become terrified.

terrified more than excited.

all these what ifs started to roll around in my brain.

what if i couldn't find the theatre? what if they didn't have my ticket? what if they didn't accept my confirmation email on my phone? what if something came up and i couldn't go?

what if it didn't live up to my expectations?

that was the biggest and scariest question. i'd grown up with the original soundtrack, and i'd been listening to it on trains all week, preparing myself for the experience of seeing it. i had tried not to put high expectations on it, but honestly, i had wanted to see this show for my entire life.

this was something i had wanted as long as i could remember, and it was coming.

on my last day in england, i went to class, went to the british library (that's an entire post in and of itself) and then i walked around london by myself. i got lost in hyde park and stumbled upon kensington palace, and that was really fun. i got back in time to pack up all my things to head back to the states except my essentials for the morning, and i blasted the lion king soundtrack while jenny and i packed up our stuff.

then i ate a small dinner and i put on the green dress that i bought in stratford the day i saw the royal shakespeare company perform hamlet (which was my favourite shakespeare production).

i spent time putting on extra make up. i wore my pearl necklace. i packed my purse. i made sure that i had my confirmation email picture open.

awkward selfie in stratford dress. and makeup.

the night before jenny and chelsea and i had gone out dancing at covent gardens, and we had found the theatre. it was only showing the lion king, and it was completely decorated with lion king advertisements and yellow lights. i knew exactly how to get there.

at six fifteen that wednesday night, i grabbed my jacket and headed to the bakerloo edgware road tube station by my flat and i took the tube to covent gardens.

i was nervous and excited the entire time i was on the tube. whenever i rode the tube by myself i never talked to anyone in the hopes that i would pass for a british person. i knew the tube very well and i had my tube pass. i acted incredibly professional and nonchalant; i was just a young woman taking the tube to covent garden for a show in a dress and tights.

when i got let off at the covent garden station, i walked quickly toward the theatre to pick up my ticket. i was so nervous and excited i could hardly stand it. i walked right into the theatre, up a flight of stairs, and into the ticket room. i showed the ticket lady my confirmation email on my phone and told her my last name. she pulled my ticket out of a filing cabinet, handed it to me, and said in her lovely english accent, "enjoy the show, up the stairs to the left" and i was heading up to my seat.

my lion king ticket was forty-seven pounds, which is about eighty bucks. i had gotten the cheapest ticket.  i was very high up; you could buy a pair of binoculars for a pound. i was very far away from the stage, but i could see the entire thing.

this was the view from my seat. so i was pretty far away.

i was a half hour early, so i sat on my phone using the wifi hotspot that i had been bumming around the country, and then i decided to buy a programme. plays in england have expensive and detailed programmes that are usually between two and ten pounds.

i needed to get rid of my money. this was my gift to myself.

lots of my classmates bought material things in england. i had bought myself the experience of seeing the lion king, and i wanted a programme to remember it by.

people began to fill in around me. i was tweeting nervously, things like, "I AM AT THE THEATRE" "TEN MINUTES UNTIL SHOW TIME" "THREE MINUTES UNTIL SHOW TIME" "IS THIS REAL LIFE"

and then the lights went out. my heart was beating in my throat and i wanted to throw up i was so nervous and excited. i sat on the edge of my seat, barely able to breathe.

then the sun rose behind the stage and rafiki began to sing the beginning of the circle of life and it was one of the most reverent moments of my life.

throughout the entire circle of life i cried silently. i didn't care who would see me. i just sat there and cried. i couldn't believe that this was actually happening, that i was actually here, that i was actually seeing this.

this was real. this was a real moment, this was something i had looked forward to for most of my life and i was making it a reality. in england.

i was seeing the lion king on broadway.

i sang all the songs under my breath, including the ones in zulu that aren't included in the movie. i cried uncontrollably when mufasa died. i cried during hakuna matata.

let's be real, i cried during the entire production.

the. entire. production.

my favourite part of the lion king is the very end when simba mounts pride rock. i cry during that part of the movie.

it was so dramatic and wonderful on broadway. the stage was incredibly flexible and versatile; it had multiple trap doors, the entire thing slid forward on a tilt that the chorus dancers leapt on, and there was a large spiral that spun into existence from the floor that became pride rock. when simba mounted pride rock in the rain, pride rock slowly assembled itself and simba climbed to the top while all the other lionesses stared up at him, and it was so beautiful that i almost couldn't handle it.

the show was breathtaking. the dancing, the singing, the costumes, the chorus. everything was absolutely flawless. i never wanted it to end.

like everything does, it did. the show ended.

i sat in my seat for a good ten minutes, unable to move. the lights had come back on and everyone was leaving and talking excitedly. i sat in my seat, looking down at the stage, clutching my programme and feeling completely numb, my face covered in dry tears.

i eventually wiped my face off, made sure my face wasn't too puffy, and then i slowly got up and left the theatre. i was shaking, shaking really hard, because i still couldn't believe that i had seen the lion king on broadway.

writing this right now is giving me chills, just remembering it and all of the emotions coursing through me.

outside of the theatre it was packed. i wanted to get back to my flat as soon as possible to go out with my classmates since it was our last night in england, but i didn't want to leave the theatre. i pushed my way through throngs of people milling around the theatre to get back to the tube station to go back to my flat, but i had to turn around and look at the theatre one last time.

you know, most of this post was leading up to me seeing the lion king on broadway and not the actual show. 

i don't think i've absorbed it yet, and it's been a month. it still hasn't sunk in, that i did this incredible thing, and that i did it in england.

it feels weird to even say it, to say the words

i saw the lion king on broadway.

i cried on the tube on the way back to my flat. when i went out with my classmates when i got back, they asked me how it was and i began to cry.

even now, when people ask me how it was, my eyes fill up with tears.

so i think you can gather that it was wonderful.

"nyants ingonyama bagithi baba."

"look, a lion is coming, father."

"kumnandi kwelakakith eafrica."

"oh yes, life is good in africa."

1 comment:

  1. This is mostly irrelevant, but I once had a dance to the Circle of Life broadway version. It was a ballet (with very strange connections to Captain America) and we made up our own words to the song. A few that I still remember are "CITY HOOOOO", "SEES A LLAMA!" and "FUNNY UKULELE!"
    Haha. It's impressive that you know all of the real words!