As I was watching Disney's/Julie Taymor's The Lion King I started to think of other moments in my life as a theatre-goer that have grabbed me to the extent that Taymor's reimagining of the classic Hamletian Disney movie. I mean, the puppets, the lighting, the staging, the music - everything in the production was designed to overload its audience with the full power of a theatre-going experience. Its merits need not be reproduced here (though I will say that the 'seeing Mufasa's reflection' scene and the stampede scene - two, in my mind, unstageable scenes were the highlight of what is arguably a flawless production) but I will reiterate how big a fan of Ms Taymor (with Titus, Frida, Across the Universe and this she keeps proving that she's versatile, original and always pushing boundaries - here's to see what she'll come up with next... er okay, maybe I'll wait and see how that Spiderman Musical turns out)
Looking back, I can only isolate two other productions that have come close to giving me such chills and made me at once notice and revel in the theatrical conventions presented in said productions; productions that wear their means of staging and 'construction' on their sleeves and still manage to succeed in creating an illusion in it audience that propels the story forward in a way that doesn't feel or look too 'gimmicky':
Ka - (seen December 2006)
Cirque du Soleil
MGM Grand in Las Vegas
Great Cirque du Soleil production which didn't just rely on the beautifully choreographed acrobatics that one is used to seeing from the Cirque, but through them told the story of twin brother and sister being torn and apart and reunited after years of estrangement.
K. - (seen in January 2004)
Kaleidoscope Theatre, Rumble Productions and UBC Theatre
Frederic Wood Theatre at UBC
Visual and aural theatre pushed to the limit in this existential exploration of Kafka in his last living hours - surrounded by doctors, hallucinations, video projections and a looming filing closet as a backdrop. One of the most kinetic productions of any kind I have ever attended.
It logically follows that I can safely say I tend to enjoy (and find theatrical as well as artistic value) in Theatrical productions that have the letter "K" in them.
This is where I would dispel should arbitrary classification, and then I remembered I am anticipating a similar theatre-going experience when I go and watch WicKed (sometime in the next couple of months) - and so the K theory continues...