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At 'Lion' Party, Fans Get Royal Treatment

October 23, 2000|BOOTH MOORE

The "Lion King" theme continued even after the curtain fell on the premiere performance of the musical extravaganza Thursday, at an African-inspired after-party. The street was closed to traffic so guests could march directly across Hollywood Boulevard from the Pantages Theatre to a string of small tents where the party was held.

A group of percussionists in batik costumes played to guests, who snatched hors d'oeuvres off platters garnished with savanna grass and colorful paper birds. Dessert was the best part. Waitresses, each at the center of a giant wooden spiral that had been covered with sweets, ambled around as guests plucked pastries from them.

Celebs including Alfre Woodard, Jamie Foxx and Eriq LaSalle had children in tow, some of whom had already seen "Lion King" in New York. Marlee Matlin's son Brandon was too young to take to the theater, she said, so she brought pictures of the 6-week-old.

Audience reaction to the pomp and puppetry on stage was positive; Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen called the production "fantastical." But when asked about the music, he replied drolly, "Of course the music was of no interest to me." (He went on to praise the score for its mix of musical traditions and Indonesian, African and American influences.)

LaSalle had kudos for "Lion King" director Julie Taymor. "I think she's created one of the most imaginative shows I've ever seen," he said.

Alan Cumming was attending the musical for the first time, even though he spent more than a year performing "Cabaret" on Broadway, just down the street from New York's "Lion King." "I was working all the time, so I didn't get a chance to see it," said the Scottish actor. Cumming, like many in the audience, hopes the hoopla lures more Angelenos to the theater. He said, "Big theatrical events like this should get people to go."

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A popular party fad of late is to use glowing chemical light sticks as cocktail swizzle sticks, which is all fun and games until one gets punctured. I snagged three at the PlayStation2 party the other night, deciding they'd make great pet toys. They did. My two cats batted the luminescent rods with their paws, pitching and catching them in the air.

But, after a few minutes, Toast let out a miserable screech. He had bitten into one of the light sticks, and was tearing around the apartment with a glowing snout.

Too panicked to laugh, I dialed the vet's emergency phone number, afraid I had poisoned my now-gagging cat. The young man who answered wasn't versed in the chemical components of glow sticks and suggested I consult poison control.

The woman who answered the phone at the California Poison Control System was an absolute angel and right away put my fears to rest. She said that parents call all the time because their children have swallowed the iridescent liquid. It is not poisonous, she said, unless ingested in massive quantities. The worst that could happen is nausea and vomiting, she added calmly. Bottom line: The liquid stings and tastes badly but isn't toxic.

Five cat scratches later (Adam and I stupidly thought it was possible to wash a cat's mouth out with water), Toast began to calm down. I did too. It's nice to know there is someone out there who can provide instant help and an encyclopedic knowledge of toxic substances in a scary situation.

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SoCal Confidential runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Booth Moore can be reached at booth.moore@latimes.com.

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