Lion King currently playing on tour in Durham, NC (till June 09) and moves to Columbus, OH (from June 12)

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PostHeaderIcon Lion King’s Puppet supervisor, Michael Reilly Interview

Lion King musical is all set and is currently performing at Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, DC from June 17 to August 17, 2014.

Lion King Puppet supervisor - Michael Reilly

Lion King Puppet supervisor – Michael Reilly

Know all about the Lion King’s Puppet supervisor, Michael Reilly – by KRISTEN PAGE.

“I prefer puppet master. It sounds better,” says the man who manages the menagerie of puppets that make “Disney’s The Lion King” the visual spectacular that it is.

The musical, based on Disney’s 1994 animated smash, is not the largest production Reilly’s been a part of (he was the “sword and armor guy” for a production of “The Lord of the Rings” that opened in Toronto in 2006) but the touring company of “The Lion King” (at the Kennedy Center through Aug. 17) certainly keeps him busy, even without any ringwraiths.

“We have so many different kinds of puppets. We have body puppets, shadow puppets, hand puppets,” he says. “Each one is unique unto itself and each one can find a different way to break.”
Reilly and his team spend each show waiting for the puppet equivalent of 911; when the call comes over the radio, they rush in like ER docs.

“We have a tool belt of knickknacks, all kinds of collars and fittings and keys and all kinds of things,” Reilly says. “It all depends on who breaks; we generally have an idea of what broke once they tell us which puppet is broken. If a hyena breaks, often it’ll be a string; if it’s Pumbaa, it’ll be a zip tie.”

The biggest problem — literally — is often the 6-foot-tall African elephant, which requires four cast members to operate. “When she breaks, it’s pretty massive,” he says.

So far Reilly and his team have a 100 percent success rate when it comes to resurrecting their patients.
“I’m happy to say no puppet has stopped the show,” he says. “I probably shouldn’t have said that. I maybe just jinxed it.”

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