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Lion King The Musical

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Lion King: The Musical

The original Disney cartoon of a lion cub blamed for his father's death has been remade into a Broadway musical acclaimed all over the world. Seen by over twenty five million people in over 15 thousand performances this intricately designed wonder has taken over 37 thousand hours just to build the puppets and masks. Julie Taymor the director and costume designer was faced with a problem of whether to create humans or animals playing the part and she decided to make masks that show the animal face, as well as, show the human face giving the character his or her personality. As for expressing other animals that are not part of the main cast or to express a certain theme, 2 different kinds of puppetry were used to express an African theme.

Masks are considered "functional works of art" and play a social purpose in Africa. They are used in storytelling and ceremonies and are made to be worn over the head rather than cover the face. This technique is also used in The Lion King so that the human facial expression is not lost and to support the beadwork, corsets and armor used to show the human qualities of a lion. The costumes on the other hand are made of silk cloth to hide the human form, break the shoulder line and to enhance the powerful joints and thighs. The masks are made in such a way that the actor can control the facial expression of the mask through cables attached to their sleeves. Costumes and masks are also used to show the development of the character as they progress through out the story. Young Simba's costume is not as intricate as Scar's to show that, Scar has an underlying plan whereas Simba is innocent.

Banraku puppetry, named for Uemura Bunrakuken begun in Japan in the sixteenth century is used in this musical to let the audience concentrate on the story as well as on the skill of the puppeteers. The master puppeteer, the only one usually seen by the audience is controlling the puppet with the help of others for legs and body while a narrator tells the story. Certain gestures and movements help to achieve a certain goal and get a certain message across to the spectators. At one point puppetry is used to show the grasses of the savanna move as the wind blows creating a magical effect.

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