Back in August, we had this vivacious guest stay with us. Being vivacious is not what made him stand out; we have had many guests with that quality. What set him apart was that he was from Mexico City and we had plans to visit. He like many other guests offered their assistance if we should have needs while in his home territory and suggested we stay in touch.
The crowning jewel of the offer was the fact that Eli Nassau is one of six stage managers for the Mexico City production of The Lion King. He offered to get us tickets when we visited if we did not mind seeing the play in Spanish. To seal the deal, he offered us a backstage tour after the performance. Normally, as thrilled as we are when guests offer their home or guidance if we should be in their neighborhood, we accept the offer, but never have we followed through with one. Eli’s offer was the first exception ever. Who could resist an offer to see The Lion King and have a professional backstage tour as well?
After back and forth e-mailing, Eli secured our tickets for the Sunday matinée. We were so excited; we did not do a thing that morning, but wait for Uber to take us to the theater.
Back in September 2001, when we were in London, The Lion King has recently opened. We went to buy tickets naively thinking we could just walk in and get them. It had already been a long day and I was tired; the line was over a block long. Just as our place in line reached the inner sanctum to ticket sales, they made an announcement.
“If you are here to buy tickets for The Lion King, we are completely sold out until March 2002. Don’t bother standing in line unless you want tickets from then or later.”
I looked at Ron and said we should not bother. He insisted on waiting and trying. I suggested I wait for him in the café around the corner. About an hour later, he shows up.
“Did you get tickets?”
“Yes, but I am not sure how good the seats are. Just as I approached the salesperson, his phone rang. The call was the cancellation of two tickets, so he offered them to me.”
When we went to the theater the next night, the seats were orchestra, aisle and eight rows back. Ron knew exactly where they were, but wanted to surprise me. It was wonderful as the animals went right past us as they made their way to the stage.
It was interesting to learn that one man, Carlos Slim, owns the entire Plaza Carso where the theater sits. He was listed as the richest man in the world from 2010-2013. Not only does he own the theater, but also the mall, and the Museo Soumaya next to it. The museum cost 47 million Euros to build. It is a stunning piece of architecture, but we did not have time to venture in on Sunday. Entry is free at all times.
We did run into the mall just to see the Christmas décor. We found a moose on the loose. He was helping to advertise a mobile phone company. Then it was back to the theater to take our seats.
Amazingly, here as we discovered in Canada, the theater sells food like a movie theater. Offerings included cotton candy, popcorn, the usual selection of candies, but also hot dogs and nachos as well as drinks. It was possible to bring
all of these into the theater to your seat. We were stunned to see this in Canada and now here too.
Knowing I could not take photos once the show started, I snapped a quick one of the theater.
The seats that Eli bought for us were great also. The animals, especially the two elephants, one of my favorite animals, walked right past us. Okay, the show was in Spanish and as someone asked, there were no super-titles, but it was still thrilling. The costumes, the animal creations and the music transcend language barriers. It could have been in Tehuelche and we would not have cared.
Just watching the ‘animal’ march down the aisles to the stage is breathtaking. Once they start performing, all time is lost. When we saw this in London, I was able to focus on the words and lyrics. The puppeteers were so masterful, it was almost possible to lose sight of them and believe it was an animal. Being this show was in Spanish, I was able to concentrate my attention on the puppeteers. This is not to say it took away from the show, but rather it gave me a greater appreciation for the work and mastery involved.
After the show was over, an usher guided us to where we could find Eli for our backstage tour. This was an exceptional experience. Eli introduced us to some of the actors who were still in costume. Shown around the set, we went to the puppet repair workshop, saw where all the puppets are stored, the actors’ dressing areas, and met a good number of people. Our plan was to go to a late lunch after the show and since Eli had a second performance, time was limited.
Over lunch, we bombarded him with questions. Being the same jovial self we have always seen, he answered all of them with grace and decorum. It is most probable he has been asked the same questions a million times, but he answered ours as if it was the first time. I am not going to reveal the answers to our questions. For me, this was a magical experience, but since magicians never tell their secrets, I am keep mum about this.
Eli left to return to work, but we stayed and wandered around the mall. They had a special exhibition for James Bond 007. We went to see what it was all about, but the admission was 185 Pesos, so we decided against it. In line with the movies, they had a distinctive martini bar set up. I suggested we indulge, but Ron shocked me by refusing. We did get to see at least one of the James Bond Aston Martin cars.
Floating on air, we returned home satiated.