Eleven and a half years ago, a few months after we met, my wife and I booked a weekend in London – a quiet hotel on a November weekend. I had no idea of the surprise she would spring upon me.
Sitting on the corner of the bed, she produced an envelope and gave it to me. When I opened it, I discovered she’d booked tickets, for that evening, to see The Lion King musical at the Lyceum Theatre. This beautiful venue was built in its current form back in 1834, and the history of the site actually dates back to 1765. To attend the Lyceum Theatre is to attend (like with many London theatres) a piece of history.
The Lion King has been showing at the Lyceum since September 1999, and has been seen by over eight million people and made over £289 million. World wide, the musical has made over $6 billion, which is simply staggering.
But what did I think of this award-winning production? Well, it’s no secret that I am a huge Lion King fan (I mean, the Timon pictures should be a clue), and the film is one of my all-time favourites, so the musical was always likely to achieve greatness in my eyes, and it did. The songs are as epic as they are in the film, with new additions and scenes that ‘fill in the gaps’ and provide a little more depth to the story. I freely admit to being tearful whilst watching the show (The Lion King always does that to me), from sheer emotion. This was a breathtaking production, a work of art that was bold enough to strip away the conventions of theatre and expose the workings of the set and props, to revel in the beautiful costumes and puppets instead. It’s amazing how quickly you forget you’re looking at a man manipulating a puppet whilst watching Timon, Pumba and Zazu.
You might be wondering why I am indulging in memories of something I saw all the way back in 2004. The truth is, I’m reminiscing no longer. On Valentines Day my wife sprung another envelope upon me, with three tickets to return to the Lyceum and once again take in the majesty of The Lion King – and this time, we would be introducing our daughter to this amazing spectacle.
Seeing the world through your child’s eyes is a magical experience anyway, but getting to show her first-hand the memories you treasure is an indescribable joy. Like her father before her, my little girl was enchanted by the display of colour and music on the stage, and her enthusiasm for what she saw led to her proclaiming she wants to see it again – as soon as we’d left the theatre!
I need to say thank you to my wife, though it’s too tame an expression to describe the gratitude that I feel. She has given me an experience that ranks among the all-time greatest ones of my life and given that same experience to my daughter. She is a wonderful woman and I hope I can do her justice.
This meerkat is very happy!