A behind-the-scenes look at ‘The Lion King’

Local News

Those still hoping to catch “The Lion King” at the Peoria Civic Center have until next Saturday before the tour moves on to its next city.

WMBD got a backstage look at the production on the Tony award-winning musical.

Michael Reilly is a puppet master who has traveled with the cast of “The Lion King” since 1999.

He handles more than 230 masks and puppets for the show, spending countless hours on maintenance.

“When we are building the Zazu puppet we have to feel that same kind of connection and view that puppet with that kind of character,” Reilly said. “Zazu’s head is carbon fiber, he has 1500 feathers that are all glued and painted on his body. It’s a lot of work but you realize once your done that the puppet really is the character.”

Every mask is built custom to fit each actor’s head and some are even more advanced than others.

In addition to the puppet team, more than 130 people make up the cast and crew. With over 250 costumes the wardrobe department stays busy and the stage is bright thanks to 700 lighting fixtures.

The actor who plays Mufasa eight times a week gave an inside look at what it takes to pull off that iconic voice.

“Being vocally tired kind of helps with the deep voice,” said actor Gerald Ramsey. “You try to get encouraged to find your own version of your own character while also staying true to who Mufasa is.”

Ramsey said his character is someone he wants to be like and believes the message behind the Broadway musical is what has made the production so powerful over the past decades.

“We live in a world that is very disjointed and disconnected and the show opens with a ‘Circle of Life’,” Ramsey said. “We talk about everything in-between relationships between fathers and sons, husband and wives. All things we can all relate to no matter what part of the world you come from.”

‘Hakuna Matata’ means no worries and that’s exactly how theater goers will feel when they see the sights and sounds of this Broadway production. Tickets are still available online or at the box office, the final show is Oct. 13.

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