Image source: GlobalStockPhotography
Most concerts that I've been to have strict requirements when it comes to photographing and taking videos of the performances. I thought I'd be sneaky and smuggle in my camera. I considered myself lucky entering the theater, my bag going unnoticed. To my utter surprise, I was not alone. After about 10 minutes of marveling at the amazing stucture of this place, I finally took my seat. The area was getting packed with both mainland tourists (Chinese) as well as international visitors. A HK$ 2 billion production? No wonder people fight for tickets. To briefly interject, I tried booking these tickets on several occasions but was unlucky most times. You need to book them in advance as they sell out fast! Fortunately, as I was studying in Hong Kong at the time, and Macau being only a ferry trip away, I planned well in advance for this session. Another benefit of studying in Hong Kong was that I was offered a student price ticket.
Anyway, to get back to the story, the seats beside me soon filled up, some people were relocated as they sat in the wrong areas, but everything seemed to work well and on time and the show commenced. As the music and narration played, I was soon comforted by the fact that the man beside me pulled out his MASSIVE camera and lens (and this comment is coming from someone who shoots with decent sized equipment) and immediately started capturing the amazing colours and lights. Unfortunately for him, he only had his telephoto lens (long range) so he could only take closeups. I read about the show in advance and the unique seating arrangements and prepared my 10mm (very wide) lens. Here is a screenshot from their official website which shows how it is all arranged - a 270 degree view!
What makes this show unique (helped by the structure of the theater) is that it is designed with non-stop movement. Your head is constantly switching from left to right, up and down, trying to keep up with the excitement. The lighting is fantastic and the height as well as overall space in the theater adds to the dramatic feel of the show. The performers are extremely talented and very well trained. It is an International crew, and very fit. Their exceptional timing and execution of the stunts they are required to perform leave you gasping for breath after each major scene in the show.
The structure of the performance could not be better. I'm usually quite critical of shows as I enjoy analysing what I see (blame my university degree) but this one was, at least in my eyes, spotless; perfect in every way. After sitting through the 85 minute show, you realise that there was no intermission! You never need one. There is an element of surprise thrown in about two-thirds of the way through and it will not fail to get your adrenaline pumping! The world's greatest show maker Mr. Franco Dragone refers to this as a 'visual theater'. It certainly achieves his goal and I can assure you that it stimulates all senses.
About half-way through the performance, I understood exactly why my eyes could never leave the stage. The secret to the show is that it has a strong narrative. Although it is deliberately ambiguous at times, it all makes sense and is generally easy to follow. This is what makes a show effective. Make your performance and narrative very complex and you've lost your audience. Make it simple and everyone - whether toddler, teenager or grandmother - will understand and appreciate the show.
10/10 (this is well considered as I could not find a single fault or area that needed improvement - simply a perfect performance)
Author: Jono Mac
Author: Jono Mac
The LION KING at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands theatre is truly a performance one shouldn’t miss. The cast is dynamic, well-rehearsed and energetic. The ‘African’ element was generally very well maintained throughout the entire performance with the exception of several scenes which ‘modernised’ the original script and movie. Personally, I found these scenes a little too ‘Western’ in style and lacked the ‘African authenticity’ which the original movie was famous for. The acting was generally well-executed with very few exceptions and most performers injected moments of humour and worked with newly scripted jokes (which were primarily play-on-words). The first half opened well with the first song as the sunrise greets the birth of Simba. Despite how attached many of us have become to this opening song, it lacked a certain amount of energy, which was later made up for by all performers. The harmonies were intact, just lacked the ‘vibrating walls’ and ‘goose bumps’ factor. Perhaps the theatre microphones and sound could have been to blame. The rest of the first half seemed to drag a little at times, and had a few additions scripted in that didn’t seem to bind the scenes together as well as the movie did.
The interval came at an awkward time, as there were two climaxes the first half could have finished well with. Nonetheless, it was Timon and Pumbaa that stole the show with their superbly timed performance. Simone in particular put great effort into his accent and on-stage movements. Pumbaa started off a little weak but built his rapport with the audience very quickly, and his voice proved to be also very similar to the original Pumbaa in the video. One could almost say that their dual performance was a show in itself and resonated well with the audience. As mentioned several times, the second half of the play really saved the day! The set was a little better, the vocal performance had improved in most characters but Scar still disappointed me with his lines, which lacked sufficient pauses and drama. However, his exaggerated movements around the stage made up for it.
As expected, Old Simba and Old Nala had stronger voices as they were older performers and they transitioned very well into the second half! Their duet (about half-way through the second half) was beautiful. Their mellifluous tones and harmony warmed the audience and won their hearts. Just when I though Rafiki could not improve her already brilliant performance, she emerged with an energy and cheekiness that portrayed the original character very well. It was her exaggeration that Scar needed to emerge with, as that dark and treacherous character as we know him in the movie. Rafiki – along with Timon and Pumbaa – were the true show-stoppers (and savers) and must be commended for the effort they put into their performance.
I came to this performance with a strong expectation for a show of great calibre (thus with very high expectations). Several years ago, my peers raved about this play as did my former choir conductor, who never handed out compliments without much thought. He valued a quality performance and regarded the LION KING as a show with an outstanding vocal work (as well as every other element such as dancing, set design, lighting, sound etc… So, for a compliment to come from him really encouraged me to go and see it, the only problem being the show had already finished. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to watch the play here, in Singapore. The Marina Bay Sands theatres are truly spectacular and a pleasure to spend time in. They are elegant, have a luxurious feel to them and are obviously still very new. If you do get a chance to visit Singapore, are currently living here or already visiting, do make a stop for one of the performances. I promise it will be a play you’ll remember for a long time and will revive those many wonderful childhood memories of the fabulous LION KING movie!
*The above ratings may seem a little critical for the two younger cast members, however, taking their age into consideration, their overall performance was truly energetic and refreshing. Not an easy feat for performers of their age!
The guys below saved the show
Author: Jono Mac
Melbourne continues to claim the award of one of the 'World's most livable cities'. This article explains exactly why...
The locals, commonly referred to as the 'Melbournians' are a cultured and hospitable demographic. If you're a lost tourist, locals will be quick to help you with directions and always happy to take your photo.
City 'Grid' Design & Efficient Tram Network
The CBD was designed as a logical system of streets that resemble a grid. All of the main streets provide two-way traffic and some of the main streets have parallel smaller streets which are referred to as 'Little Collins' or 'Little Burke'. These are usually areas which have fantastic hidden restaurants and entertainment.
You will never be disappointed with the food Melbourne offers. Sure, many restaurants are usually not open until very late but if you manage to dine at a district such as 'Lygon Street' (Italian food), then you will have no trouble dining at 9-10pm.
Walk along some of the more populated streets
A City of Entertainment
Years ago, Victoria was referred to as the state which is 'On the Move'. This was a perfect slogan as it illustrated that our city is full of events. Melbourne is often viewed as the sports capital of Australia, offering an impressive list of events such as the Australian Open (tennis), Grand Prix (car racing), AFL (Australian football), Cricket and many others. Here is an overview of the year:
Author: Jono Mac