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PostHeaderIcon The Lion King Review – Musical Continues its Reign

North American tour of Lion King returns for its third visit to Houston, beginning Tuesday July 10, 2012 at Hobby Center. The Broadway musical continue performances at Sarofim Hall – Hobby Center through August 12, 2012. Here is the Lion King musical review by By Everett Evans.

Disney Theatrical’s megahit stage adaptation of the 1994 animated film logged another milestone in April, becoming Broadway’s top-grossing production ever. Its box-office total of $853 million surpassed that of “Phantom of the Opera,” now in its 25th year and still Broadway’s long-run champ.

But the Broadway production and North American tour (which has played to 14 million people and grossed $928 million) are only the beginning of this show’s worldwide success. To date, 19 productions of “The Lion King” have played to 64 million people in 15 countries across five continents, grossing $4.8 billion.

Besides the Broadway run and the tour seen here, there’s a company traveling in Japan, a U.K. tour that starts next month and open-ended runs continuing in London, Madrid, Hamburg and Tokyo.

Additions to the score by South African musician Lebo M and others injected authentic world-music influences alongside the Elton John-Tim Rice songs. Richard Hudson’s bold settings were influenced by African textile design, while Garth Fagan’s choreography mixed African dance moves with ballet and modern.

Yet it was Taymor’s extensive use of puppets and masks from various world-theater traditions that proved most crucial to the stage show’s unique visual profile. The techniques featured include: stylized African masks, most worn above the head rather than over the face; Bunraku puppetry, with large figures manipulated by teams of puppeteers in full view; and Indonesian shadow puppetry, with moving figures of wood and animal hide silhouetted on a muslin screen.

Taymor and Curry devised a different means for depicting each animal – as prominently displayed in the celebrated “Circle of Life” opening sequence.

The giraffes are performers on stilts that extend their arms and legs, with the tall neck and head worn atop the actors’ crown.

The cheetahs are puppets whose hind legs are worn like trousers, while the performer manipulates the puppet torso and front legs with sticks.

The zebras reverse that format. The performer wears the neck and head attached with shoulder straps, pulling the back end behind. The zebra neck and head is attached to each performer with shoulder straps, pulling the back end whose hind legs are manipulated with sticks.

The success of “The Lion King” helped pave the way for other hits showcasing various forms of inventive puppetry, from “Avenue Q” to the current “War Horse.”

As technical director of the Broadway production and this tour, David Benken supervises all technical aspects of the complex production, making sure they mesh.

Even though the actual load-in of the production to each theater takes four days, the tour manages to close one engagement on Sunday and begin the next two days later. Benken explains how.

“We use two complete duplicates of settings and equipment, so we can open in one city just after closing in the previous one. Otherwise, we’d need a week’s break between engagements. The things we do carry from each city to the next, besides the cast, are the wardrobe and puppets.”

‘The Lion King’ by the numbers

* 134 people in this touring company – 49 cast members, 19 wardrobe people, 18 musicians, 11 carpenters, 10 electricians, 5 hair and makeup artists, 4 props people, 4 stage managers, 3 puppet craftsmen, 3 sound people, 2 creative associates, 2 company managers, 2 merchandise associates, 1 child guardian and 1 physical therapist.

* 200 puppets used in the show depicting 25 species of animal

* 18 trucks (14 of them 53-foot semitrailers) to transport sets, puppets and other materials

* 7 days prep required to set up the show at each new venue (3 days of advance prep, 4 days of on-site technical preparation)

* 6 African languages heard in the course of the show: Swahili, Zulu, Xhosa (the click language), Sotho, Tswana, Congolese

* 45 wigs

* 3,000 stalks of grass required for yearly upkeep of the 20 Grasslands headdresses

* 100 Ants on the Ant-Hill Lady costume

* 12 Bird Kites in Act 2 opener, “One By One”

* 13 feet long, 9 feet wide – the elephant, largest animal in the show

* 5 inches long – trick mouse on Scar’s cane, smallest animal in the show

Read the complete review {Via chron.com}

Lion King Play at Sarofim Hall – Hobby Center through August 12, 2012. Lion King Musical Houston TX Tickets are in full Demand! Avail $15 OFF on Lion King Sarofim Hall – Hobby Center Ticket Orders of $350 or more by using code SUMMERTIXTN at Checkout!

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