Hakuna Matata

I’m in the back – 2nd from right. This is the Munckin Scene, I think.

My love for musical theater goes back a long time. My mom was setting up the neighborhood version of the Wizard of Oz in our backyard — complete with costumes, scenery, smoke, rehearsals, and an organist – by the time I was 5. (And I, the director’s daughter, was cast as Aunty Em, Head Munchkin, and Head Monkey — how’s that for a team player?) The neighborhood ensemble went on to field a few more shows (I remember one about a snowflake at some point…) and we did several back yard performances, and took them to community centers and retirement homes. I went on to accompany my Mom on stage in summer stock productions of Camelot, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Ahmal and the Night Visitors to name a few. Oh yeah — all by the time I was 8. [The fact that I later went on to become a music teacher was a shock to…well…absolutely no one.]

I attended my first real musical production for either my fifth or sixth birthday. It was the touring production of Annie. My brother got to see Tony Randall in the Music Man later that year —  and I was jealous. Yes, I was that kid.

So, when the touring production of the Lion King came to town, I really wanted to take the kids….and then I looked at ticket prices. Ouch. I know that live theater ain’t cheap, but a family of four for orchestra seats really adds up. Yeah, I know, I could choose the cheaper higher up seats, but  for the kids, I really wanted them to be able to see the costumes as the character came down the aisles through the audience. Really, it was for the kids…I swear.

We’ve seen the Lion King movie about a zillion times at home, so we talked it up a lot in the day leading up to the show. We called it the Lion King Concert, so they wouldn’t expect another movie. We put it on the calendar and made a big deal about it. They even got to be picked up from school EARLY. It must be important! (Their teachers said that normally my kids sleep the hardest, but on this day they were both up early waiting to go.)

All Dressed Up

I made everyone dress up for the show – that’s how I was raised. I know it’s Miami, where the term “Black Tie” merely implies the use of socks, but there were some…um…underdressed-effin’-people. Jeans and flip-flops to a Friday night show?? Umhellno. Not in my house.

Our seats.

So we made our way downtown, treated the kids to some Bubba Gump (hooray for a kids menu!), and then headed to the Arscht Center. As expected, Matilda and Lane were blown away by the costumes, and everyone around us was blown away by their cuteness and excellent behavior (Mommy score!). Lane received the most comments of any 3 year old for his suit — and a whole crowd of people gave up an “aawww” when Matilda declared she hated Scar after the show was over.

Tanzania, 2006

I loved the new songs that weren’t in the movie, it reminded me of my safari in Tanzania. The Disney folks were supposed to have visited the Ngorogoro Crater to observe animals and hear the African choirs that accompany dinner most nights at the lodges. That safari – with Mom – was hands-down the best trip I ever took. Those 3 weeks are worth a blog or two of their own one day.

So, overall, I will list “attending a live theater performance with children” as a positive experience for all involved, and start planning our backyard version of Tangled for the fall. [Hey mom – are you busy in September…??] Never too early to start, right?

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