Stage, Theatre & TV22nd January 2015

Captioned Lion King Proves to be Family Friendly

With Deaf Friendly entertainment difficult to come by, captions ensured everyone could enjoy the show

by Jennie Finlayson

LION KING!  WOW!! Visual, vivacious and very, very clever. If you are deaf or hard of hearing and you only see ONE show in your lifetime, then make it this one.

My daughter is profoundly deaf, her daughter is excellent at BSL, my friend is hard of hearing, I am becoming deafer and deafer, so, when the Lion King came to town, I booked for the 4 of us when there was a “caption reading” performance and it didn’t disappoint. Whoever thought of making Lion King into a stage show, whoever designed the sets, costumes etc., and whoever produced the show are very clever people indeed.  Sometimes, you could actually believe you were watching animals, not humans wearing costumes.

From the very start, when the animals walked in from the back of the theatre you knew that you were going to be amazed. Some of them were just sensational. There were huge elephants and I really don’t know how humans on stilts could be such tall, graceful giraffes. The hyenas, which are a huge part of the story-line, looked exactly what they were supposed to be – mangy, slobbering scavengers with long pink tongues hanging out. The atmosphere was created by the colours (think African dress), movement and attention to detail, even down to the ants, the flies and the buzzards. One scene involved a buffalo stampede.  It started out with silhouettes of buffaloes, about half way up the screen at the back of the stage. I really have no idea how it was done, but suddenly they were on the move and before we knew it the stage was full of puffing and panting buffaloes. The accompanying music was so loud, I almost jumped out of my seat, and, as I said, I’m pretty deaf. Brilliant special effects!

One thing that is disappointing is that the show ran for 6 weeks, but there was “caption reading” for only 2 performances, one of which was a matinee in school holidays. I rang the theatre to ask about this, but, apparently it’s a decision made by the show promoters, in this case, Disney. It seems a shame, as the facility is there, why can’t it be used more often I wonder? As I said, I booked the show this time, but have now established that if a deaf person registers that fact with the theatre, he/she can then pre-book seats for a “caption reading” show and pay at a later date, or on a particular date (as with the Lion King, where there was a designated date on which to book). For our local theatre, this can be done on-line, by using the “access” facility, so, hopefully this would be the case, nationwide.

It wasn’t cheap to go, but made a great Christmas present for my daughter and seeing her enjoy it so much was worth every penny. 


Article by Jennie Finlayson

posted in Entertainment / Stage, Theatre & TV

22nd January 2015