By Marivir R. Montebon
Last October 8, I watched The Lion King as it reopened on Broadway after an 18-month hiatus brought about by the pandemic. The vibrancy of Times Square is back. I was with my friend and media colleague Grace.
I was excited to see it – because The Lion King is one of Broadway’s finest and multi-awarded shows. I was sad too – because Nikki would have been so happy to watch it with me! We never got to watch it because the ticket was prohibitive, like Hamilton and Wicked.
These days, my heart cradles the twin emotions of grief and glee in remembrance of Nikki.
The Lion King was her first movie. We watched it together with her late father in 1994, when she was almost three years old. It was a joyous time, a milestone, I should say, because it was her first movie and we watched it as a family.
I could still remember how delighted she looked while watching the movie, especially when the characters young Simba, Timon, and Pumba sang the now world famous Hakuna Matata.
Later in the show, however, I began to worry: when the scheming Scar caused his brother King Mufasa’s death at the stampede. It was a story of betrayal and I was not sure how to explain it to Nikki’s innocent mind.
The story was in fact Nikki’s first exposure to a brutal reality in life but presented in an animation. I recalled that I was such a worry-wart mom.
Indeed, I remember she asked me why Scar wasn’t nice to the young Simba. For he was jealous and wanted to be king, I remembered explicitly telling her.
We had a fun, memorable time together watching The Lion King along with popcorn, then dinner and sweet conversations. This was a memory that will forever be in my heart.
Years have passed, our life as a family and as a mother-daughter tandem were punctuated by one movie after the next. And here in NYC, we watched Broadway shows together as well: The West Side Story, Phantom of the Opera, Allegiance, Aladdin, etc.
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