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PostHeaderIcon Vancouver Singer Ian Yuri Gardner returns to Lion King Cast

The Lion King at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre

The Lion King at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre

The local Vancouver singer Ian Yuri Gardner has spent most of the past seven years in various stage productions of The Lion King. Yes, this show has legs, especially when Gardner comes onstage as a giraffe.

Gardner plays a “swing” in the cast, meaning he’ll be onstage in several different roles during any given show.

“We’re in puppets the majority of the time,” Gardner says. “There’s lots of choreography even for the singers. We’re never just standing there.”

Disney’s movie cartoon was adapted for the Broadway stage by director Julie Taymor 13 years ago, with the story’s various animals represented by huge puppets manipulated by the cast. The stage version has since become a durable audience-pleaser as well.

Gardner’s giraffe moment comes during the opening song “Circle of Life,” which recreates the movie’s panorama of wildlife. Gardner plays one of the two giraffes in that sequence, requiring him to walk on all fours with stilts on his hands and feet, while singing.

“It takes a while to get used to it,” Gardner says. “Some people never get used to it — they go out there still nervous, but I actually enjoy it. This is one of the most unique shows that I have ever been a part of.”

Gardner was born in Britain, but grew up in Vancouver, graduating from Gladstone secondary in 1986, the year his school choir sang at Expo.

He went on to a career doing musical theatre in Vancouver, singing on cruise ships, and producing his own shows in Britain and Canada. The travelling continued when he first joined a production of The Lion King in Toronto in 2003.

After that production’s run, he joined a production in Holland (for which the cast had to learn Dutch), and eventually joined the Broadway show in New York, where he stayed for two-and-a-half years.

“I heard the tour was coming back to Canada so I asked to join,” he says over the phone from a U.S. tour stop. “They always called me, every time I thought that was enough of The Lion King.”

He will do as many as 20 costume changes in a show, and the touring schedule involves eight shows a week.

“The fact that it’s coming back to Vancouver makes it full circle for me,” he says. “My goal has always been to open up my own production company doing a variety of events in Vancouver. I’m slowly heading that way more permanently. I’ll still be in The Lion King for a little bit, but I’m definitely on my way back home.”

Lion King is currently performing at Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver, BC Canada through August 08, 2010.
Timings: 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays, 2 p.m. Saturdays, 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sundays. Until Aug. 8

Buy Lion King Vancouver BC Canada Tickets.

{Via Postmedia Network Inc}