Stupendous. Awe-inspiring. Amazing. Fabulous.
There probably are not enough superlatives in the lexicon to describe the experience. The Lion King was really, truly amazing. I am completely in awe of the creative genius of Julie Taymor who did the costumes, mask and puppet design and was the director.
I knew there were "puppets" in the show but this is not your Sunday School hand puppet experience. For example, Scar and several other lions had masks. When the actor was standing upright, the mask rested above the actors head. So Scars mask chin was on the actors forehead. But when the actor bent over, ex. to look Simba in the eyes, the mask moved and came down in front of the actors head so the Scar mask was talking to Simba. It was a fascinating integration of mask, puppetry and acting.
And not all the masks moved. The lionesses and Mufasa's masks were stationary on top of the actors heads. The hyena's masks were an integral part of the costume and actually rested in front on the actor at about belly button level. There was a ridge of fur traveling up the actor hyena's back, over their head and to the mask making the whole actor/mask combo look just like a hunchbacked hyena. And several characters, notably Timon, was a large puppet connected by various wires and such to the actor. It was all incredibly fascinating.
One of my favorite "characters" wasn't even on stage. In the front corners of both stage right and stage left, were percussion platforms filled with every kind of African acoustic instrument you could think of plus others: djembe, conga, shekera, triangle, gong, a bent wood stick with a string that made the coolest plucky sound... So this guy played all these different instruments throughout the show and he looked like he was having the time of his life. He smiled big, sang along, danced to the beat. Not in any distracting sense but my joy in watching the show was enhanced by his obvious joy in performing. I'm so glad we were closer to this guy because his counterpart stage left was a complete stick-in-the-mud.
Being on the aisle was great. The opening sunrise scene includes a parade of the animals making there way to Pride Rock - andthe hugest elephant sauntered down the aisle way right next to me. I *loved* the gazelles (impala?). And the cheetah was great too. There are some good photos here and here.
An amazing experience. It only would have been better if all of you could have joined me! =-)