Designing “Disney’s The Lion King Junior” Part 1: Background and Overall Concept

Scenic Design, Technical Theater Tips, The Lion King Experience, Theatre, Uncategorized

Designing Disney’s The Lion King, Junior was a massive undertaking.  We were one of the first schools to have the opportunity to stage this version of The Lion King created especially for kids in the spring of 2015 and it was very rewarding to be able to put my own stamp on the production.  The intention for the design aesthetic for our production of The Lion King, Junior was to do a (mostly) non-masked production that looked very different than the iconic Julie Taymor designs, but still retained some of the scale and magic of the original production, but on a much more modest school budget.  I did not want it to look like a cheesy replica of the original, which it would have if we had tried to replicate the designs. Most schools do not have the time or budgets to create the level of detail and craftsmanship you would see in a Disney production.  We scaled the sets and costumes way back and focused on the essence of the story and characters which proved to be a really smart decision and resulted in a production everyone was really proud of.

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Some Background and Challenges:

  • The National Tour of The Lion King was going to be in town for a month leaving a few weeks before our performances, so it would make for an easy comparison between the productions for both students and parents.
  • Our stage was fairly small and not very deep with little to no wing space.  To cross over from one side of the stage to the other you needed to go outside through the side doors in the wings and run around the building. There is no fly system.  We were working with a black traveler in front of a concrete block wall to the outside in the back and some cream colored curtains across the front of the stage. We only have about 9 feet of height between the stage floor and the teaser.
  • We found out in January after The Junior Theater Festival that we could do the production and the show went up in the first week in May.  We had auditions and started rehearsals in the end of February after our winter production and had about 8 weeks of rehearsal due to a 2 weeks spring break.
  • This production was a no-cut show, so there had to be a place for every middle school student who auditioned.

Stay tuned for detailed posts on our set and costume design!

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