Lion King at DPAC -An unforgettable experience

PYO intern and reporter Kristin Royster. (Staff photo by Carlton Koonce)

Are you a Lion King fan? A majority of kids probably know the story of the lion king. It’s a tale of courage, coming of age, responsibility and “Hakuna Matata”, or living stress free. The film was first released in 1994 and more than 20 years later its showing here in Durham at the world renown Durham Performing Arts Center.

First an African folktale, then a Disney movie, later a cartoon and video game and now a Broadway Production, the first musical production was in 1997 in Minneapolis, Minn. and reportedly was an instant hit.

Back here in Durham, growing up, Lion King was my favorite movie on VHS and thanks to my wonderful mentor, Angela, I got a chance to see the production at the DPAC. It was a life changing experience.  When I first walked into the DPAC, I was walking on red carpet. I’ve never been in a theater like that besides the North Carolina Theater, which seems a little older and smaller. It was a packed house the evening we attended and we sat in the balcony, which had a great top view.

I don’t think you can sum up the experience in one word. The creativity of the show was surreal.  They controlled the hand made animals like they were puppets and the singing, sounded extremely professional.  The changing of sets was fast. They would cut off the lights and before you knew it, the next set was complete and the lights were back on by the time everyone finished clapping.  People of all different ages were there. The people in the crowd were very diverse. I dressed casual but there were people in dresses and suites.  I felt pretty comfortable even though I was dressed normal, because I knew that everybody in the room felt the same joy I did.

The experience is something every Durham child should see. Wouldn’t it be nice if the DPAC could give discounts for disadvantaged neighborhood students or disabled kids? Even an adult will leave feeling like they were 6 or 7-years-old again. For every little kid that grew up in the projects or one of Durham’s rougher neighborhoods, an experience like this it will make you want to think and dream bigger.

As I was growing up, I never really had the opportunity to see plays, musicals or other productions. I always only watched them on cassette tapes. After leaving this show, I felt like a little kid again – full of joy.

Why can’t all Durham’s kids feel the same?