Young Star

Behind Pride Rock

Maine Manalansan - The Philippine Star
Behind Pride Rock

Fly high: The Lion King associate director Anthony Lyn demonstrating the puppet for Zazu. Photos by Neal P. Corpus

The artistry behind ‘The Lion King’s’ puppets is enough to make any kid at heart fall in love with theater.

MANILA, Philippines — There are two iconic moments that I would count as Disney’s best contributions to tech and theater in the past three decades. One, when Disney decided to partner with Pixar Animations to create the first feature-length computer animated film Toy Story in 1995, and two, when they adapted The Lion King to the stage in 1997. While both offer a completely different experience, these are prime examples of how Disney continues to push the limits given the right partners and thought leaders.

One such person is Julie Taymor. As director of the first run in 1997, she translated The Lion King experience by introducing puppets to the production. The musical now operates more than 200 puppets featuring 25 kinds of animals, birds, fish and insects. This genius of the idea helped make Julie the first woman to win a Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical.

Feel the love: Calvyn Grandling (Simba) and Noxolo Dlamini (Nala) hug it out after performing with the ensemble.

It was easy to see why when we saw the puppets in the flesh at the special behind-the-scenes preview of The Lion King. The puppets were being housed in the newly renovated Star Theater, which is also where the production is holding their rehearsals. During the presentation, The Lion King’s associate director Anthony Lyn explained the science behind each one. From Scar’s asymmetrical mask to the unbelievable puppet-to-makeup coordination of Zazu, each puppet was given much thought. However, the one of the cheetah is the cast and crew’s favorite. Handling it requires intense coordination and grace as it’s connected to the actor’s head and its leg movements require careful and meticulous choreography.

Words can’t really describe how groundbreaking the work Taymor and her team was in making The Lion King such a classic. Don’t get us started on the goosebumps that we’ll get when we hear the opening lines of The Circle of Life. I guess we’ll just have to see it in the theater. We all know this is one show we cannot miss.

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The Lion King will run from March 18 to May 6 at The Theatre at Solaire. For tickets, visit ticketworld.com.ph. Follow @TheLionKingPH on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates.






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