‘The Lion King’ . . . and ‘King’ Stu

| vschneps@queenscourier.com |

What I love about birthdays is that they are causes for celebrations.
And this weekend was the beginning of a week’s rejoicing - with the gathering from around the country and city of my husband Stu’s children - to celebrate his special birthday.
It’s no small matter, considering our combined family is seven children, their children and mates - a basic group of over 20 people. But gather we did and what fun it was. Stu was “King for a Day,” reveling in just seeing all the interaction.
One night we had an “adults-only” dinner at a restaurant and then the next evening his daughter Mimi hosted us for a dinner party at her home in Manhattan. Nothing ever seems too much for her - I wonder if it’s a gift or if she has acquired the skill over the years. She herself is the mother of three enormously active and brilliant boys, holds a job as principal of a preschool and is also the wife of warm, loving man - quite a balancing act!
As a bonus, Stu’s son Jon from Sarasota, Florida brought his 9-year-old son Josh to town with him. On Sunday he got tickets for the venerable, spectacularly-staged “The Lion King.” It’s now in its 11th year and the man at the box office, with a prideful and grateful smile, said, “We’re sold out every day!”
That may be so, but fortunately for Stu and me we were able to buy, an hour before showtime Third Row tickets. My guess is that the premium seats that are sold at premium prices and broker’s seats get sent back to the box office a few hours before showtime - how else to explain the availability of front row center seats at the last moment? Regardless of how, I’m glad we got them.
I had seen “The Lion King” many years ago but Stu had not. So it was on my birthday celebration list and what better way to see it than to share it with wide-eyed Josh? His mouth hung open for most of the show. The Elton John and Tim Rice music and lyrics are as moving and poignant today as they were when first written.
But for me the magnificent, brilliantly-designed costumes and staging by Julie Taymor are unmatched in the theatre world. To think how she has costumed actors into elephants, lions, birds, zebras, jackals, buzzards, gazelles - and I must not forget the giraffes. They were brilliantly choreographed to make me feel the actors were, in fact, those animals. Remarkable. The show was over too quickly.
To have a real New York experience we took Josh to eat at the most famous maker of cheesecake in the world, Junior’s. The Brooklyn-based landmark restaurant was packed with people waiting for seats as they forayed into the Theatre District. On the cold blustery Sunday afternoon we were blessed that it was on 45th Street just a few steps away from the theatre. My treat there was to have a rich chocolate ice cream soda, topped with whipped cream. They even come in glasses that have lines on them with directions as to how high the chocolate syrup should go, how much milk and how much seltzer. Okay I fell off the wagon! I just had to show Josh what the best thing you can eat/drink in the whole world is - an ice cream soda.
So celebrate we did and it felt so good. This week we celebrate our beloved Borough President, Helen Marshall, and get to hear how she will handle the challenging year ahead of us. We must all have faith that our nation will move ahead and change will be for the better. Always remember the famous and true words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt - “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”