“The Lion King On Broadway” Soon In Portland, Showcasing Oregon-made Puppets
The Disney musical, “The Lion King” will be playing out on a Portland stage at Keller Auditorium from January 7 to 28. Twenty minutes north of Portland- in Scappoose, “The Lion King’s” rambunctious meerkat Timon is being airbrushed at the Michael Curry Design studio, where the characters are being made for the production.
The designers have designed, and as tailors tack together fabric in a myriad of designs and textures, the welders weld pieces in place, creating enormous animal structures. In a 60,000-square-foot studio, artists bring an uncanny life to the characters for their appearance on stage. Crafting the designs since the 1997 debut of “The Lion King” on Broadway, Michael Curry and his team are the artists behind the magnificent musical puppets and masks in the Broadway production and touring productions.
With accomplishments that include a 30-foot-long, 14-foot-tall lion in Katy Perry’s 2015 Super Bowl halftime show the team is no stranger to Disney stage productions and has also constructed puppets for other shows like “Frozen.” Whether it’s musical, festival, or just about any other performance, no task is too big for the Curry team, whose work also appeared in Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
But come January, it’s Oregon’s turn to see the stage version of the epic movie.
What to Expect At “The Lion King On Broadway”
A landmark in live theatre, The Lion King musical is one of the most popular Broadway shows of all time. Director Julie Taymor leads the creative team behind The Lion King on Broadway through this stirring tale of love and loss, which features music composed by Elton John and lyricist Tim Rice, with choreography by Garth Fagan.
As the characters in the production find their place in the world, the audience is drawn into overcoming the very human fears of the animal kingdom. Inspired by the breathtaking visuals, magnificent puppets, and unforgettable music, the tale leaves theatergoers of all ages inspired and uplifted.
The Lion King story tells the audience about the young prince Simba, a lion cub destined to be king. The bad guy- Simba’s evil uncle, Scar, devises a scheme to take the throne by killing Simba- and his family. The prevailing king, Mufasa- Simba’s father and Scar’s brother, is killed by Scar but Mufasa urges Simba to flee rather than take the blame for the death of the king. Escaping from Scar’s clutches, Simba retreats into exile where he grows up in their corner of Africa.
The years go by as Simba’s firm friends Timon (the meerkat) and Pumba (the warthog) gradually forget their past as they live their lives in the wild. That is, until another friend- Nala, a lion cub, shares the news that Scar is abusing the animals in the kingdom. Baboon pal Rafiki advises Simba to return to the Pride Lands to confront Scar. As the beautiful tale unfolds, Simba and his friends return, overthrowing Scar, and giving Simba back his rightful place as king.
The incredibly powerful story makes this production special. So much more than just a simple story about a lion cub, this is a tale of love, loss, and redemption. You will laugh out loud, and then be moved to tears, and as the narrative unfolds, the audience finds themselves in an experience they will never forget.
Added to this is the amazing cast of characters on stage. Protagonist Simba- the lion cub, is brought to life by an extremely talented young actor, who takes center stage amongst a cast of characters brought to life by remarkable dancers, actors, singers, and puppeteers who skilfully manipulate Michael Curry’s designs.
But making The Lion King so extraordinary is above all its phenomenal music. Written by Elton John and Tim Rice, the melodies and words perfectly capture the characters’ emotions and the tone of the story. Praised by critics and audiences alike, it’s unsurprising that the show has been such a huge hit.
“The Lion King On Broadway” Questions Answered
Numerous well-known and well-loved songs feature in the production, these include:
The Circle of Life –
Can You Feel the Love Tonight
Hakuna Matata (which means “no problems”)
I Just Can’t Wait to Be King
The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Including one intermission, the show run time is 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Written for children but loved by all ages, The Lion King is appropriate for children over 5 years old, but unfortunately, children under the age of 4 will not be admitted to performances.
January is a difficult month, but The Lion King on Broadway- with its moving story, spectacular sets, and stunning costumes is a timeless classic that brings inspiration with the warm heat of Africa to this chilly season. It’s on at the Keller Auditorium in Portland from January 7 to 28.