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Lions at Play

  • Published at 12:37 pm November 2nd, 2018
Lion King
Photos: Sabab

The symbolism and mysticism of the story was handled especially well with unique twists and some very interesting walking metaphors that allowed the power of a moment to be kept intact with little special effects

The Senior Uttara campus of Scholastica held their production of Lion King on October 25-26. I happened to catch the opening show at the STM Hall which is very much part of the campus. The show was put on as a joint effort by students involved in the Drama, Music and Dance clubs.

A little back story: Scholastica has always been very invested in the arts and has an especially rich history of live theatre. This is one of the major reasons why each of their two newer campuses house a state-of-the-art performance hall. However, aspirations alone do not grant mastery and recent years had seen the quality of productions at the school waver a bit.

At this point one may wonder if too much is not being asked of schoolchildren; after all, as long as they have fun and their friends and family enjoy it, what does it matter? Scholastica itself disagrees with that philosophy, sending their students to represent the country all over the globe and inviting special guests to attend each of these programmes – it has to be done a bit better than “good enough”.

Here we get to the Lion King. The first thing we noticed was the quality of the set itself, stacking into five layers and extending from the proscenium in a bit of a ramp, then the stage lights boldly left exposed to the audience, and finally the masks or more accurately hats that the actors had on to represent their characters. Everything was stunningly well done, with the cherry on top being the nod to our own cultural stories with the costumes being studded out with hardware normally used in the ornamentation of rickshaws.

Things were a little slow to start but was punctuated by the energy and enthusiasm of young Simba – perfectly offset by the languid slinking about of Scar, then that thing that happens happened, with beautiful choreography and the dance club outdoing itself. And it hit me, I was gripped, I was in the experience now. Mufasa’s stoic strength and Scar’s jealousy and Zazu’s paranoia were all mine now. The characters played perfectly off each other, especially Timmon and Pumba. The Hyenas were hateful and wretched (that’s a compliment) and the lionesses gave us a window into lion life and the tyranny of Scar.

The symbolism and mysticism of the story was handled especially well with unique twists and some very interesting walking metaphors that allowed the power of a moment to be kept intact with little special effects. Even the bare stage lights twinkled into stars. I tip my hat to the director.

There were problems however, there is a need for a young Simba and a grown-up Simba, but more Simbas than that gets disorienting and halts character development. The feline prince was not the only character subject to such abuse; then we come back to the problem of it being a school play and allowing more people to participate. It would probably have served the play better to have guided a single actor through the stages, rather than having four different people mindlessly execute a quarter. The long expository speeches revealing the plot before each act didn’t enhance the performance, but had the opposite effect.  Last, what seems like a minor complaint after all that: if you have tall hats on, don’t hang microphones so close as to bump into them.

All in all, a very good, very enjoyable and solid production by Scholastica. I look forward to seeing where the school will take the art form next.

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