The Lion King (audiodescribed)

Last Thursday, Nicky, Darragh, Emma and myself went to the
Bord Gais Energy Theatre
to see an audio described performance of
The Lion Kingmusical. I’d seen it in London on my birthday two years ago, but we couldn’t go to an audiodescribed version. I was nine when the film came out, and being crazy about animals, i loved it, and had almost every type of Lion King merchandise you could think of.

The highlight of the evening for me was the touch tour before the performance. People who were blind or visually impaired had the opportunity to touch some of the amazing costumes that would be on stage, and these are partly what makes the musical so brilliant. They are so colourful and elaborately designed, its impossible to imagine what they are like without touching them, so this was a great bonus. I particularly like Rafiki’s costume! The staff were great at describing them, and answering all my questions about the cast and the performance. I was very curious!!

After dinner we returned to the theatre where we were seated in the circle and given headsets. There were two audio describers who described half of the show each, so this provided an interesting mix. They read through the show notes beforehand, and did a fantastic job throughout the performance. It added so much extra to the story that I was already so familiar with. The fact that it was live was very effective, and the describers were down to earth and sometimes funny, without meaning to be. Everything made so much more sense when we had seen some of the costumes.

The musical is so much different to the film, yet never straying from the original story. One of the most amazing things about The Lion King is the music. The african music and singing gives me goosebumps, particularly in the opening five minutes during ‘the circle of life’. If you’ve seen the musical, you’ll know what I mean. The animals come into the audience and the atmosphere is brilliant from start to finish. I can’t recommend it enough, especially if you have children who love animals.

The staff in the theatre couldn’t have been more helpful, from the minute i booked the tickets, to ensuring that our seats were okay, to checking during the interval that we were happy with the headsets and the description. The dogs were welcomed, with no fuss being made of them at all, the way it should be. O.J lay down before the performance started and never moved until it finished three hours later.

There were a few other blind and visually impaired people at the touch tour and the performance, though I’m not exactly sure how many. Its a pity there weren’t more, since opportunities like this rarely happen in Ireland. I’d advise anybody to go and experience at least one audio described performance of a show if you get the opportunity.


7 thoughts on “The Lion King (audiodescribed)

  1. I really enjoyed reading your description of this performance! So glad you had the opportunity to go. And OJ was such a trooper for it, too. I’m a sucker for the Lion King as well, being a long time Elton fan. I haven’t seen the play but hear it is brilliant.

    • Nancy, it will certainly not disappoint for you. The show is amazing. I was just totally captivated by it all. I saw it before also but the audio description just gave it so much more meaning for me. Now, I want to see Blood Brothers at some point so, don’t say anything everyone. I will just keep dropping hints and hopefully Jennifer can come to see it with me also. 🙂

  2. I loved the Lion king as a kid too. i was thinking the other day how now as an adult you see how dark the story really is without being scarey for the kids. I’ve never been to a musicle It would be interesting to see what it would be like compared with the film.


  3. I’ve done a few touch tours and while I absolutely *loved* the part where you go on stage ahead of time and feel the set, I found the headphones during the play distracting. I always end up taking them off and not using them. Is that just me, or are there other people out there who are blind who have a difficult time with audio description during plays and movies?

    • Well Beth its funny you say that, because for a good while into the performance i couldn’t decide what way to listen, because i wanted the description but also wanted to hear the sound from the stage as well. During the second half i did what Darragh did, which was to put the headphone on one ear, which worked a bit better.

      • Hi, my headset didn’t work the best at times duringthe performance so I did find that annoying. I took them off at one point cause I wanted to hear the sound naturally also. They were not the most comfortable of things I have ever had to ware. We weren’t given the opportunity to go on stage Beth. That would have been nice to see that all set up.

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