Coming Soon: The Lion King Experience

TheLionKingExperienceHappy Halloween! Now that that’s out of the way, this post has nothing to do with Halloween. Why? Because I had another PD today for Disney Theatricals and what we learned was way more exciting than naughty nurses and candy corn, which is saying a lot. (Especially for those of you who know how much I love naughty nurses candy corn)

If you don’t like geeking out over education or The Lion King, then you shouldn’t read this post. What you should do instead is look in the mirror and try to figure out what’s wrong with you!

The Lion King Experience is Disney Theatricals newest and biggest educational initiative, and it’s incredible. The short version is this: when you purchase the rights to either The Lion King Kids or The Lion King Jr., you get The Lion King Experience FOR FREE! “But what is The Lion King Experience?”

I’m so glad you asked.

The Lion King Experience is an introduction to musical theatre, using the world of The Lion King as its foundation. While it would be incredibly exciting for the most experienced middle school drama teacher to use, it is equally exciting and accessible for someone to facilitate that has never worked on a show, ever!

Each lesson begins with a DVD featuring two actors from The Lion King tour. They introduce the lesson of the day, and the teacher then guides them through a group activity. Students then break into their prides, smaller groups that they will remain in throughout the experience. There is a group lesson, followed by a time of sharing, and then the individual students journal, finishing up the lesson on a more personal level. And each lesson, for lack of a better word, builds upon the last.

Confused? Try this in for size. There’s a unit on the role of the book writer of a show. After the video and group activity, each pride is given a one sentence topic for a scene which they then script together. The next lesson is on the role of the composer. The students go back to the scene they wrote in the previous session and find a moment that could be elevated into song, and the prides work together to write their lyrics. The next lesson? Choreography. You guessed it–the students are choreographing the songs they composed. So in three short lessons, students have written a scene, complete with an original, fully-choreographed song. They also learn about costume design, make-up and masks, sound design, and the list just goes on. And all of it takes place in the world of The Lion King. Can you imagine the knowledge these kids will have when they start rehearsals? And what a great way to get kids who may not be interested in performing excited about the show! One kid might shine when designing masks, and another might find the use and placement of microphones thrilling, and then you’ve got a team of tiny, little helpers ready to lend a hand.

For the PD, we broke into pairs and each group had one lesson to work with. We had twenty minutes to come up with a five minute presentation for the rest of the group, where we could either speed through, show some of the video, activate a group exercise, or any combination of the above. There is too much material for us all to ingest it in one sitting, so this was the best way for us to all leave with a good idea about the program. And I can’t tell you how excited and giddy we all were; a group of adults walking around the room like hyenas, beating djembes, and dancing like hornbills. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love my job!

Oh, and Happy Halloween!

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Mnemosyne Technique and…the circus?

Circus backgroundToday was supposed to be my first day filming Mnemosyne Technique, but unfortunately we didn’t to shoot.  I met the director, Brett, and the actress playing my wife, Pooyah, at Starbucks.  Brett gave us some cash so Pooyah and I could get lunch and get to know each other, and it gave the crew a little more time to get set up.  Pooyah and I found a Shake Shack, which was a first for both of us, and had a blast getting to know each other.

When we arrived at the Fairfield Inn and Suites, where we were set to shoot, we hit a snag.  Brett got clearance to shoot at the hotel a while ago, but when he showed up and started setting up the camera, someone came down to the cafe area and told him that we had to wait for him to get clearance someone someone on the national level.  Apparently whoever gave Brett permission before didn’t have the authority to give permission.  And obviously, shooting a scene in the cafe of a hotel in Brooklyn was pretty low on the priority list for anyone that might check the voicemail the hotel manager left.  So we didn’t get to shoot.  But that’s not what this post is about.

I got a text from my buddy Danny saying “dammit Kevin, are you available or not?”  I had no idea what he was talking about until I remembered that I had an unheard voicemail from him. (I have the terrible habit of saying to myself “I’ll check it later.”)

Anyway, Danny is the bassist on the Ringling Bros Barnum and Bailey Gold Unit, and it turns out, they need a keys 2 sub for a few weeks!  Months ago, thanks to Danny, I interviewed for the Keys 1 position, but after learning about the necessity to know synth programming, I told the conductor that I was pulling myself out of the race.  I was pretty sure he’d find someone more qualified, since I have yet to program a keyboard.  But apparently I made a pretty dandy impression, because Danny said that Robbie, the conductor, asked him to check in with me to see if I was available.

I just got off the phone with him, got some preliminary info, and now I’ve got to circle up with the conductor and chat a little more.  And obviously, look at my schedule and see if there is any possible way to make it work, which usually seems unlikely.  For some reason, though, I have a pretty good feeling about this!

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