‘The Lion King’ musical now in Albuquerque through November 5

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — You can feel the love Tuesday night through November 5 as “The Lion King” musical is at Popejoy Hall in Albuquerque.

“We took a cartoon essentially and we put it on stage,” said Michael Reilly, the show’s puppet supervisor.

Over 200 handmade puppets are part of the big production, bringing the 1994 animated film to life on stage.

Among them is Zazu, of course.

“There are 1500 feathers on him. Every single one of them was individually painted by us in the puppet room,” Reilly said.

Zazu is no different. Each puppet and mask that goes on stage takes many hours to build.

“We have about eight different styles of puppets. Everything from a hand puppet to a shadow puppet, to giant body puppets, even mechanical puppets,” Reilly said.

It also takes time for the actors using the puppets and masks to master the craft.

“If it’s just Zazu, we’re really focused on how that bird interacts with you as the actor, but there are also giraffes. We have to teach people how to walk on giant stilts and be a giraffe,” Reilly said.

While the approach is a challenge, they say it shines through.

“It would have been very easy to put everybody in a mask and costume. Instead, what they did was that they integrated the puppets. You still see that human, you still see that actor. Give them the ability to talk and emote and have that puppet but give them that duality. I think that’s what makes ‘The Lion King’ very magical,” Reilly said.

Albuquerque is the latest stop on the national tour of “The Lion King”. Click here for more details and tickets to the Albuquerque dates.