In which I DIDN’T take my daughter to see The Lion King


When you find yourself included in the “media contacts” of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, a really awesome thing happens … you get invited to a crapton of cool stuff.

Everything from “Defending the Caveman” to “Flashdance” to art openings to improv to, well, you name it.

I tend to send regrets for most of those media previews/media showings because in addition to being a restaurant widow, I’m not a real reviewer. I’m deaf, mostly, so don’t ask me if the lead violin is out of tune at the symphony, or if the chorus sounded awful in the latest CLO production. I don’t know anything about ballet other than “Ooooh, look at the beautiful bodies. Mmmrowr. I feel fat now. Where are the cookies?”

Mmmm. Cookies.

Where were we?

Right, so I tend to turn down such offers because who cares what I think? Besides, with some shows only running for a few days, by the time I get any sort of post up about it, I’m not doing much in the way of promoting the show, which is basically why I was invited in the first place, and therefore accepting the tickets seems … wrong.

Sure I’ll say yes to certain shows, like Wicked because damn, I want to be a green girl. And Phantom of the Opera, because I am all Team Phantom and Raul can suck a bag of — WHOA!

I feel passionate about the Phantom.

I said yes to Flashdance, because, hello, PITTSBURGH. (What a Feelin’! Beings believin’! I CAN HAVE IT ALL NOW I’M DANCING FORRRR MY LIIIIIIIIIFE.) [awkward dance moves resembling a drunk giraffe in a mosh pit]

Ear worm. You’re welcome.

Anyway, I’m digressing a lot just to say that unless I know for certain a show is going to move my soul to the point that I want to gush passionately about it, I say no.

I said yes to the offer of The Lion King media tickets because I thought it would be the perfect show to take my six-year-old daughter to.  (Damn right, I ended that sentence in a preposition. You’re gonna read it. And you’re gonna like it.)

Her first Broadway show! We are going to dress up! And have a girl date! And it is going to be memorable and special and all the adjectives in the whole world that mean memorable and special!

I was going to write about it in the vein of “It’s a wonderful thing to take your daughter to her first big show in downtown Pittsburgh! We had dinner before, then strolled the streets of Pittsburgh, then … MEMORIEEEEEEEESsssssss…” [Sings at the top of her lungs. Cats die.]

My daughter is nervous around loud noises. Always has been. Truck roars by — ears covered. Loud radio — “TURN IT DOWN.” Kids screaming – SHHHHHhhhhh. The irony that my daughter is sensitive to noise while I have about 15% of my hearing is not lost on me.

Disney World this summer was fun. Trying to calm her and reassure her that rides wouldn’t be scary. The explosions weren’t real. The shows wouldn’t be too loud. THE SCARY TINY PEOPLE IN IT’S A SMALL WORLD ARE NOT GOING TO EAT YOUR SOUL. Probably.

The Lion King show at Disney knocked her socks off — full of loud music, loud noises, acrobats, singers, dancers. She loved it, so I figured she’d do just fine at the broadway show.

Until she came home from school the day before the show and declared she would not be attending The Lion King. There were going to be noises, loud ones. There was going to be dancing — “lame.” There was going to be a very scary song sung by Scar and she was OUT.

She was adamant. I had two choices.

1. Let her stay home.

2. LITERALLY drag her LITERALLY kicking and screaming into the Benedum, LITERALLY hold her down in her chair LITERALLY kicking and screaming and shooting fire out of her eyes until the show started at which time she would finally calm down and realize it was AWESOME. But not before everyone in the theater judged me to hell, the same way I judged the guy who sat in his seat smoking an e-cigarette before the show started.

I went with door number 1.

Show starts. I hear the word “lame” in the dialogue. A word my daughter has never said before in her life until that day she came home from school.

Later in the show, Scar’s song is full of noisy bluster and unexpected, loud explosions. She would have crapped her pants.

Slowly I come to the realization that one of two things had happened:

1. She is psychic.

2. Someone in her class saw the show the day before and told her all about it,  scaring the bejeesus out of her.

I’ll take door number 2!

So I saw this AMAZING show — this visually stunning, perfectly produced, at turns soul-lifting and soul-crushing show  — without my daughter.

I’m glad I went. The puppetry is crazy-good, which is how I’m sure other official reviewers will describe it. Or maybe “kickass” or maybe “balls to the wall fantastic.”

Do I think your kid will like it? Yep. Scar’s song is not that scary at all. The hyenas are hysterical (“Muf-ahhh-sahhhh”).  Timon and Pumbaa are spot-on and I want to have a beer with them.

Sure your kid might cry his eyes out when Mufasa dies (spoiler alert) because they REALLY pull at your heartstrings with that scene, but what The Lion King gets right is comic relief. You don’t have long to feel sad before the hyenas are cracking your shit up — another professional reviewer phrase.

“Two thumbs up! Cracked my shit up! BALLS TO THE WALL FANTASTIC!” — Christopher Rawson, Post-Gazette

So that’s my whole review. That’s what the Cultural Trust gets out of offering me those tickets.

Because my daughter chickened out.



  1. Karen
    September 12, 2013 9:36 am

    Please have a “Caption this Photo” contest for the picture.

  2. Di
    September 12, 2013 9:47 am

    I read Burgh Baby’s blog regularly and I love that you’re the friend she ran into at The Lion King whose daughter called the show “lame.” My blog-reading worlds are colliding.

  3. Cassie
    September 12, 2013 9:47 am

    There was a special screening of The Lion King that was specially geared for autistic children, where they kept the lights slightly up, the sounds were softer, it was all around gentler. (A friend of mine worked directly with the production company.) Please note – I’m not saying your kid is autistic! I am saying that I thought it was a great idea, and this post reminded me of it. Making such an awesome show available to all children.

    That said, I’m taking my kids Sunday and I’m hoping beyond hope that another kid won’t ruin it for them by freaking them out.

    • Virginia
      September 12, 2013 9:50 am

      True story: When my daughter was very young and showing that she was very sensitive to noise, my sister was concerned and did an at-home 24-question test behind my back to see if she was autistic. Hah! She passed with flying colors. She definitely has some auditory sensitivity though, and I think she also would have loved the softened version. Problem was there was no way she was going into that theater without a MAJOR hissy fit.

      • Cassie
        September 12, 2013 10:06 am

        My son is similar. Passes the autistic screening with flying colors, but he actually stopped doing taekwondo for a short period because he couldn’t handle all the other kids screaming, “HIYA!” He’s back now and fine, but for a while I was worried.

        • Virginia
          September 12, 2013 10:07 am

          For her, it’s all about knowing what to expect. Unexpected noise, bah! But if she knows it’s going to be loud and screamy, she’s fine and she’s loud and screamy right along with them. Kids are weird. :)

  4. Marcy
    September 12, 2013 10:01 am

    Ginny, you totally did the right thing. I chose option 2 back in the day (a Wiggles show and I paid extra to get front-row seats) and spent $150 and an hour of my life standing in the back of the theater with a terrified kid!

    • Virginia
      September 12, 2013 10:05 am

      That was the conclusion I came to as well. When the explosions started on Scar’s song, I was SO glad I hadn’t dragged her there.

  5. Janelle
    September 12, 2013 4:58 pm

    I saw it when it came through a few years ago and loved it. Going again Sunday. I’m pretty excited.

  6. Leigh-Anne Weiss
    September 13, 2013 8:22 pm

    Great review! If you ever need a date, I’m available. Here is a link to an article that was in the PG today about the autism-friendly performance. My friend Lu Randall from the Autism Connection of PA provided the resources necessary to make this happen! You should talk to her about being a part of their next big event! I just volunteered to help with their autism-friendly Santa visits.