03 May 2009

Lion King FTW!

Since the first week in January I've been on the remodel crew at Mandalay Bay, turning Mamma Mia! Theatre into Lion King Theatre. It was actually pretty demanding; the as-builts were completely wrong, for instance, since in-house apparently came in to change things as was needed and their version of as-builts didn't match what the architects gave us. I was in charge of turning over the dressing rooms, and I re-routed so many circuits, it isn't funny...and in one particular dressing room, not even ten minutes after I signed it over, it was decided that all the vanities were moving to opposite walls. This included the lighting and power circuits. It was maddening.

However, it was a good experience, nothing like the monotony of building towers that comprised much of my apprenticeship. I even liked coming to work, though alot of that had to do with who I was working with and working for. (My foreman, in his own words, is both firm and fair. I quite appreciate it.) But it came with an added bonus: comp tickets for a matinee show today.

Usually, when a theatre is turned over, the general foremen and foremen get comp tickets to see the show on a soft opening or final dress rehearsal. However, for whatever reason, Disney saw fit to give tickets to each person who worked on the project, plus a guest. I took my husband, of course. :) I was actually really surprised, since it's incredibly rare that we, as construction workers, are ever recognised; however, right before the show started, Thomas Schumacher (president of Disney's Theatrical Group) came on stage and thanked us for our hard work and dedication. It was really amazing.

But not as amazing as the show!

"Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba!..."
I'd always adored the beginning of "Lion King": the Zulu chant, the animals making their way to Pride Rock...all of it. The full 3 minutes or whatever it is. So much so, that often I'd put in the DVD, watch that part, then take it out, as the rest of the movie has always been mediocre to me. But this show...somehow was a seamless African-themed Noh drama. Just breathtaking. And oddly, the character I liked least in the animated version -- Rafiki -- is now my favourite. I know it's going to sound girly, but I cried during the opening and ending. Just the beauty of it. I felt very close to Ogoun then...

Disney's Lion King: Las Vegas will open to the public in about a week, so far as I understand it. It's incredible, the cast here is vibrant and the theatre is basically new, since we basically rebuilt it from an empty shell. Mamma Mia! Theatre was, quite realistically, annihilated. So when in Vegas, check it out at Mandalay Bay...and try to get a lower level seat, there's all kinds of action that takes place in the aisles from time to time. I won't ruin it. :)

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