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Puppet Masters Give Behind-The-Scenes Look At ‘The Lion King’

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Hundreds of people and puppets grace the Hippodrome stage in “The Lion King.” One of Broadway’s longest-running musicals is in town.

Gigi Barnett explains the elaborate costumes and puppets help transport the audience to Africa.

“The Lion King” songs are timeless. The set is extraordinary. The award-winning show is the perfect mix of performers and puppets.

But when the music stops, there’s a lot of work keeping the pieces in tip-top shape.

That’s Bruce Paul Reich’s job. The Minneapolis native calls Baltimore home, and he’s frequently called to the set for emergency repairs on intricate pieces like Scar’s mechanical mask.

“To work on this show I feel like I need to know everything about everything,” Reich said.

Although the performers wear these pieces, they’re considered puppets. “The Lion King” has more than 200 puppets in the entire show. But without the performers, the puppets are lifeless.

Kendra Moore is one of the lead dancers.

“It’s pretty much another show behind the show,” Moore said.

She goes through dozens of costume changes during the show. Moore says making the show sing takes controlled chaos.

“We’re constantly back here getting into our next costume, running back on stage. It’s very organized back here. It has to be,” she said.

The biggest puppet in the set is an elephant, which takes four performers to operate. The smallest puppet is a mouse at the end of Scar’s cane, which is about 5 inches long. It took about 17,000 hours to develop and build all of the characters for the original Broadway play.

After Baltimore, “The Lion King” moves on to Minneapolis.

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