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.