The Lion King is playing in Miami.; we went to see the show on Sunday, 1 PM "matinee" as my mother and older brother insisted that they were called. We crammed into our black Lexus, bickered as my mother shouted at my older brother to mind the stop lights and speed limits, and arrived ten minutes before the show started. I blew-dry my hair, an unusual occurrence, and tamed it with curlers. This experiment allowed me to wear my hair down for a couple of hours, before it puffed into fuzzy strands of Indian frizz.
Our family does not normally arrive to events on time, so we prepared. An hour before our planned departure, my mother bade me to chop the lunch vegetables and cook while I showered and the boys (older and younger brother) went biking. The shower took longer than usual due to excessive hair scrubbing, blow-drying and make-up. Hair curlers have a life of their own if you don't pin them in properly; also, do not attempt to wrap them in towels because they prefer to breathe if they have to be wrapped in locks.
Although the musical was fantastic, such events are only wonderful when you have people to share them with. My mother had instructed me to educate my younger brother about The Lion King for a week, watching the DVD every day with him. This wasn't a bad education, but I was crammed full of Lion King information that my younger brother did not appreciate. He preferred to lie back on the couch, let his eyes waver and close, and listen to Elton John's fantastic songwriting. I needed someone else as a student.
Next to me was a mother and her young daughter. The mother and I talked about The Lion King being Disney's best movie, a result of a two-year journey to Africa and Disney executives coming up with a great idea for a film project. Then the lights dimmed and Rafiki sang "THERE COMES A LION," starting the show. No one can resist singing along to Act One, where the beloved Disney songs come to life. We also can't resist screaming at Simba to run when the wildebeests threaten to trample him, nor gasping when he dangles from a tree branch at a precarious height; I was terrified that the safety wire would snap at any moment.
The young daughter, who later emphasized that her name was "Genevieve!" kept confusing Mufasa with Scar and didn't know what the hyenas were, so I whispered answers in the dark. After intermission she offered me an Oreo, which I refused politely, and kept asking me what happened next. It was a good crash course in brief communication, such as saying "Fight" when the hyenas and lions battled for Pride Rock. Having listened to the musical soundtrack and seen the movie five times in a row that week, I happily complied even though my family would tease about it in the car. Genevieve was full of life, excitement, and curiosity; she reminded me of what I once was before legal adulthood and adult responsibilities set in.
When you watch a musical like The Lion King, you need a kid to share it with, a kid who has no idea what's going on but wants to jump in and sing "I Can't Wait to Be King" with the cast. You need someone who believes that they control their destiny, that the story they see on stage can happen in real life, and that they will remember who they are. Dwayne Wade had his five-year old son and his son's thirty best friends to entertain that same Sunday (go Heat, we are in FINALS).
I know I'll never see Genevieve again, but she reminds me of the kids out there who want to grab a story in their hands and devour it without the need of dessert forks. She's motivated me to learn how to write for those children, to remember the faith that kids can succeed even when adults hinder or protect them. When my younger brother matures, I hope he can keep reminding me.
Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Union with Lion King cast. Digital image. Miami Broadway.com. Web. 30 May 2012.
Lion King Photo 2. Digital image. Adrienne Arsht Center. Web. 30 May 2012.
Rafiki singing for the lion king. Digital image. Adrienne Arsht Center. Web. 30 May 2012.