It may sound a little different — an entire play about a guy singing and playing, not one, but six guitars. Still, the rousing applause at the end of “The Lion” on opening night at The Old Globe, conveyed that not only is this an exciting show, but that Benjamin Scheuer’s real life story is touching, and his delivery about it quite unique.
Scheuer makes it clear as he picks up a guitar, that this performance is based on his relationship with his father. His father played old folk songs on the guitar, and Scheuer wanted to be just like him. He was so excited when his dad made him a cookie-tin banjo from remnants in the basement, that “The more we play together, the more I fall in love with music,” Scheuer says.
He illustrates this by hopping from one type of guitar to another exhibiting not only his talent on the strings but gingerly sharing bits of his home life with his mom, Sylvia, and two brothers, Adam and Simon. Scheuer reveals that his dad could have been a musician, but instead became a mathematician with a degree in economics from Harvard and a law degree from Columbia.
“He hands me a pick, one that’s little and black. He shows me the G-Chord, I’ve never looked back,” Scheuer says as he picks up a different guitar and sings another of his life story-telling songs. One is a funny ditty about grasshoppers, flies, owls and lions, where he asks his father, “What does make a lion a lion?” His dad asks him what he thinks it is, and the young Scheuer says it’s a roar. From there, Scheuer continues playing and singing about lovely lion cubs, and a little pride. Is he referencing his own family?
The songs are very beautiful and thoughtful with lyrics like, “It’s not how long the rain falls or how hard the wind blows, or how deep is the snow … it’s the way we weather the storm.”
Throughout this continuous unveiling of his life through songs about his father passing, his own cancer and loss of the girl he loved, Scheuer is forthright and joyous each time he picks up a guitar. The audience is an invited guest to this unique and special performance, which certainly deserves its Drama Desk Award.
• IF YOU GO: “The Lion” runs through Oct. 30, 2016 at The Old Globe Theatre, 1363 Old Globe Way in Balboa Park, San Diego. Tickets at (619) 234-5623 or theoldglobe.org