Two wineglasses clink, white wine threatening to spill over. People are taking their seats in the lavish theatre. Spirits are high throughout the crowd. Word of the production has spread and spectators are sure that their expectations will be met and perhaps even exceeded.
Carefree conversation turns to hushed whispers as the lights begin to dim and the excitement grows. The curtain rises and a spectacle of colour begins. The audience leans forwards in their seats to get a better view as their senses work tirelessly, unwilling to miss a single thing. Notes are hit with a seeming effortlessness and the actors don’t seem to tire as they leap across the stage with perfect timing and grace. The opening number is familiar to most people in the theatre but no amount of familiarity with the show or its songs can compare with the scene in front of them now.
The energy in the theatre remains high for the rest of the show, a feat that seemed impossible considering the standard set by the opening number. Joy, sadness, shock and a myriad of other emotions flicker across the faces of audience members in the theatre and each scene elicits a new emotion in the audience.
The actors perform stunning dance sequences, breath-taking vocal displays, and heart-stirring acting. No matter their age, audience members fall in love with the show and its actors. The children inspire sounds of fondness and admiration and their charm makes up for the occasional mistake.
The highlight of the show is not the story, the acting, or even the music. It is the stage. The rising, tilting, and shifting of the stage aides the performance in an unmistakable way. Without the stage rising to create pride rock, tilting to show distance and landscapes, or shifting to allow for new set pieces such as the wildebeest stampede to come out the show would not be as enrapturing. Each set piece is so clearly thought through and meticulously placed to create maximum effect and the effort put into the show shines through the performance and resonates with the audience.
This same effort is evident in costume, choreography, and music. It is evident in each bead sewn onto a lioness costume, each movement or jump made by a character, and each note played by the talented musicians or sung by the actors. Nothing happens in this production by accident and the time and effort put into the piece is clear from start to finish.
Wonder shines on the faces of spectators throughout the theatre at the perfectly crafted production and the praise and applause it receives is well deserved. Smiles remain on the spectators’ faces well after the curtain is lowered for the final time. Murmurs of reverence and affection spread through the theatre as people leave, many with the intention of returning.