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Fun facts about the ‘Lion King’ stage production

  • Published Saturday, Sep. 1, 2012, at 3:35 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, Sep. 1, 2012, at 4:24 p.m.

Puppets

•  Director and designer Julie Taymor, along with designer Michael Curry, hand-sculpted and painted every prototype mask that now appears in the “Circle of Life” opening of the show.

•  Their department of mask-makers, sculptors, puppeteers and artisans spent 17,000 hours to build the anthropomorphic animal characters for the original Broadway production.

•  Mufasa’s mask weighs 11 ounces. Scar’s mask weighs 7 ounces, and Sarabi’s mask is 4 ounces.

•  The masks, along with many others used in the show, are extremely lightweight (just under 1 pound) and are made of silicone rubber (to form the mask imprint) with carbon fiber overlay, the same durable material used to build airplanes.

•  More than 750 pounds of silicone rubber were used to make the masks.

•  The tallest animals in the show are the four 18-foot exotic giraffes from “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King.” The two giraffes in “Circle of Life” are 14 feet high. Two actors, trained in stilt-walking, climb 6-foot ladders to fit inside the puppets, mount stilts and enter stage left to cross the stage.

•  The elephant is the largest and longest animal in the show. At 13 feet long and 9 feet wide, the puppet requires four actors to carefully walk her down the orchestra aisle. The puppet can collapse for storage.

•  The smallest animal is the 5-inch trick mouse at the end of Scar’s cane.

•  The Timon meerkat puppet weighs 15 pounds.

Costumes

•  Pumbaa the Warthog is the heaviest costume at 45 pounds.

•  The yearly maintenance of the 20 Grasslands headdresses requires more than 3,000 stalks of grass.

•  Each ensemble member plays a hyena and a Grassland head.

By the numbers

•  Puppets: 200

•  Ants on the Ant-Hill Lady costume: 100

•  Wigs: 45

•  Types of animals, birds, fish and insects represented in the show: 25

•  Indigenous African languages spoken in the show: six (Swahili, Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Tswana and Congolese)

•  On tour, there are 134 people involved with the show’s daily production. Among them:

19 wardrobe staff

18 musicians

11 carpenters

10 electricians

Five hair/makeup artists

Four props people

Four stage managers

Three puppet craftspeople

Three sound people

Two creative associates

Two company managers

Two merchandise associates

One child guardian

One physical therapist

Source: Disney

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