“The Lion King” opens Tuesday, July 5 at ASU Gammage.
It’s the start of a four-week engagement for the North American touring production celebrating 20 years on the road. The show was originally slated to visit Gammage in 2020 but was rescheduled due to COVID-19.
“The Lion King” Tour Fun Facts
• Winner of more than 70 global theatrical awards, including 1998 Tony – Best Musical; 1998 Tony – Best Direction of a Musical – Julie Taymor (making Taymor the first woman in theatrical history bestowed with the honor); 1998 Tony – Best Scenic Design – Richard Hudson; 1998 Tony – Best Costume Design – Julie Taymor; 1998 Tony – Best Lighting Design – Donald Holder; 1998 Tony – Best Choreography – Garth Fagan; 1998 NY Drama Critics Circle Award – Best Musical.
• Tony Award-winning director and designer Julie Taymor, along with designer Michael Curry, hand sculpted and painted every prototype mask that now appears in the iconic “Circle of Life” opening of the show. Their department of skilled mask makers, sculptors, puppeteers and artisans spent 17,000 hours to build the anthropomorphic animal characters for the original Broadway production.
• Mufasa’s mask weighs 11 ounces, Scar’s mask weighs seven ounces and Sarabi’s mask is just four ounces. The masks, along with many others used in the show, are extremely lightweight (just under one pound) and are comprised of silicone rubber (to form the mask imprint) with carbon fiber overlay – the same durable material used to build airplanes. Over 750 pounds of silicone rubber were used to make the masks.
• The largest and longest animal in the show is the Elephant (nicknamed “Bertha” by the back stage crew when the show premiered in 1997). At 13 feet long, 12 feet high and 9 feet wide, the puppet requires four actors to carefully walk her down the orchestra aisle. When not occupied by the actors, the puppet can collapse down flat for convenient backstage storage.
• The smallest animal is the trick mouse at the end of Scar’s cane at just five inches.
• Worn like a back pack, the Pumbaa puppet is the heaviest costume, weighing in at 45 pounds.