Thursday, 11 April 2013

'The Lion King' in Manchester: Masks, Make up and a Tale of Two Cities

Young Simba and Young Nala in the 'The Lion King' at the Palace Theatre in Manchester

Trip to Manchester yesterday with Fashion Girl to meet a friend for afternoon tea, do a bit of shopping and then to the Palace Theatre to see 'The Lion King'.  It's an hour on the train from here so we don't go that often and in fact, I realised we'd never actually walked through the town centre before.  FG a bit overwhelmed;  not sure how to react to the young women who tried to sell us single roses as we walked through Piccadilly and wanting to give money to all the homeless people we saw en route from the station.  Gave her my usual response: that the best way to help is to support homeless charities rather than give money directly to beggars but she wasn't having it.  If the homeless charities were doing their job, she said, there shouldn't be so many people on the streets.  Soon we were in more comfortable territory, walking through the Royal Exhange Arcade to St Ann's Square where a well-heeled young lady was singing opera also with a begging bowl in front of her....  It seemed like we'd been transported to a different city.  The Exchange Arcade as a sort of Tardis taking us to another dimension.

Double standards in operation then when we hit the shops.  She tried to persuade me to buy her a make-up kit from Bare Minerals in Kendals costing £49.  I'm scandalised by the marketing trick this company and Benefits, the other company targetted at teenagers, use.  They package make up in boxes with 'lessons' on how to apply it and then charge a fortune for it.   Cynical ploy in my view taking advantage of girls like mine who worry about their image.  She got a 'Benefit' kit for Christmas and was totally convinced.  And then someone she admires at school told her that Bare Minerals was the best because it uses pure ingredients or some kind of nonsense like that.   Anyway didn't give in and told her she could put it on her birthday list if she wanted it.  Long wait then..

how to look the best at everything - light

'The Lion King' was wonderful.  We'd both loved the Disney film when she was little and in fact it was through the death of Simba's father that she grasped the idea of what being dead meant. What I loved was how visually spectacular it was.  The opening scene has giraffes on stilts crossing the stage and a full size elephant makes it way through the stalls and joins all the rest of the 'animals' on stage ; a rhino, a prowling cheetah and graceful antelopes. After the interval the second act began with African music and colourful birds flying all around the auditorium on the ends of what looked like fishing poles.   I was completely spellbound and spent a lot of time figuring out how the animals worked. - a mixture of clever costume design, masks, puppetry (Timon was great; so were the hyenas) and a modification of the old tradition of the pantomine horse.
The Cheetah hunting the giraffes

As a result I suppose, I was less involved in the action, and was unmoved by Mufaso's death: this is someone who is capable of crying at 'Coronation Street '.  Fashion Girl in floods of tears at this even though she knew it was coming.  What she liked was the kids - they were brilliant: the little girl who played young Nala,  looked about 7 at the most but she was so confident and had a powerful singing voice for one so little.  And the African music was superb with drummers in the boxes on our level adding to the wall of sound.

I'm usually not that keen on big shows with big prices like this.  Too often I've been disappointed.  Took FG to see Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang when it was on in Liverpool and felt ripped off and wasn't that impressed when we saw 'Matilda' last year in London, though she liked it.  But this show was worth every penny.  Catch it if you can if it tours near you.  It's in Liverpool next.  

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