The latest national tour of “The Lion King” opened earlier this month at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, and the show proved as powerful as ever.
The Tony-winning costumes, astounding puppetry, now-classic songs and South African chorus make the show a magical experience.
And yet, one might hope for a bit more from the audience. On opening night, one couple arrived 10 minutes into the show, and had to be shown to their seats — in the second row. Very disruptive. A child of about 3 in the row in front of us had mostly disrobed by intermission. Rather distracting. The dress code for some tended toward shorts and flip-flops.
During the 1970s, when I was entertainment writer at Warren Buffett’s Sun Newspapers of Omaha, part of my beat was the Omaha Playhouse, famed as the theater where Henry Fonda started his career. Fonda always shared warm memories of the place on his return visits to Omaha.
One day, Charles Jones, director of the Playhouse, was explaining to me why it was important to keep the lobby nicely decorated and the ushers formally dressed.
“You need a sense of occasion,” he said.
Opening night at the theater is not a stop at the convenience mart.
In Northern California, we’re justly proud of our casual style. Millionaires wear jeans and everyone can feel comfortable everywhere. It has an equalizing effect.
But let’s not lose our sense of occasion. Sometimes, we need to make a little effort out of respect for others. Let’s make a special event special for everyone.
“Lion King” runs through Jan. 13 at the Orpheum. (888) 746-1799, shnsf.com.