Editor’s note: New York City presents amazing cultural opportunities to share with our families. We recently collaborated with Disney’s “THE LION KING” to experience this legendary Broadway show. Member Corbin Younger reviews this must-see musical.
As we roar into the holiday season, a pride of 25 NYC fathers and their children recently attended a production of Disney’s award-winning best musical THE LION KING at the Minskoff Theatre. Coming up the escalators, my daughter and I immediately realized we were being transported someplace special.
The sides of the theater look like the Savanna, and there’s a giant wooden lion head watching majestically over the proceedings. As my daughter and I entered the theater lobby, we saw many parents and children with amazed looks on their faces. Before you get to your seats, you have the chance to marvel at several costumes on display. This is a very smart tactic. Not only does it provide great opportunities for Instagram worthy pictures before the performance, but it gives the little ones a frame of reference so they can be prepared for what is coming.
And what comes when the show starts is like nothing I’ve ever experienced in theater.
The grand procession of animals to begin the show, through the audience, left me breathless. You’re transported from the middle of Manhattan to the middle of Africa, from the mundane to the magical.
My daughter exclaimed loudly “Wow!” and shook with delight at how amazing and intricate the costumes were. Each animal is portrayed in a slightly different way through the use of masks, makeup, kites, puppetry, pulleys and performers. The actors did not simply display their costume, it is as if each personified the spirit of the animal. A simple stare, a sudden pause to clean themselves, each animal had a nuanced way to demonstrate their individuality. No matter how small or large, from giraffes to warthogs to buzzards, each animal is portrayed with skill and grace. We realized that each animal is unique, and has to be treated with respect.
And yet, even being unique, THE LION KING animals work in unison to create a circle of life, where each animal is interconnected. If one aspect of this circle goes awry, the show demonstrates, the effects of breaking this chain can be devastating. Greed and shortsightedness can lead to devastation, a lesson highly relevant in today’s global environment.
The circle of life also shows how a community supports each other. The main character, Simba, does not grow to be the leader he becomes without family and friends supporting him. Similarly, I saw this effect on a more local level among our NYC Dads Group attendees. Before the show, when I needed to use a restroom, other fathers from our group kept a watchful eye on my daughter. I paid this kindness forward a few minutes later. When we began to walk to our seats, one of the dads called out to a fellow father who had forgotten his backpack on a chair. We looked out for each other as a tribe, and welcomed others into our circle. For one short moment, we were one tribe, one family. We were similarly honored to join the circle of those lucky enough to see a production like THE LION KING.
We loved ‘THE LION KING’
After the show, our group quickly began raving about this special experience. Here are a few highlights and observations from our circle of dads:
Having the opportunity to share this show with my daughter was truly amazing. Watching her face in awe as the opening number unfolded was worth a million dollars. The production team of THE LION KING does an amazing job alongside the talented actors throughout the entire show. We’ll be talking about this Broadway show for years to come. –– Dan G.
Bloody brilliant experience! Our first time on Broadway for both my daughter and I. I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to experience this with a great bunch of like-minded dads. Highlight was seeing the pure joy and amazement on my child’s face gawking at the unbelievable costumes and dancing! — Joe M.
Five stars! Every family should see this show. We especially loved the clever and creative animal costumes and great music. –– Chris D.
Seeing THE LION KING on Broadway was an awesome experience for my son and myself. His face was priceless throughout the entire show. So captivating. –– Larry I.
“I loved it!!”, said my daughter. It was a great time to share with my daughter and so many other NYC Dads. The costumes were unbelievable! — John S.
This was such a powerful experience for me. The first time I saw THE LION KING on Broadway was five years ago — the day before my daughter was born. Having the chance to share this spectacular Broadway musical with my daughter and seeing the pure joy in here eyes was the ultimate father/daughter bonding moment. THE LION KING was the perfect choice to be her first ever Broadway experience. We’ve been listening and dancing to the musical soundtrack in our home everyday so that’s when you know it made a positive impact on our lives. — Lance S.
Disclosure: The team at “The Lion King” provided this experience for NYC Dads Group members to attend. The opinions expressed in this review are heartfelt, honest, and 100 percent our own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Corbin Younger is a tutor and parent advocate, part-time writer and full-time dad to his daughter. He was previously a special education teacher for 20 years in Virginia and New York.