The Lion King at the Benedum Center

Credit: Rebecca Enright/Art Editor Credit: Rebecca Enright/Art Editor

You can feel the anticipation building as the audience waits anxiously for the start of the show. People have brought in their snacks and drinks and are quietly munching on them while flipping through the programs. They are reading all about the fabulous cast of The Lion King, the performance they will soon experience at the Benedum Center in downtown Pittsburgh.

The lights begin to dim. People silence their cell phones and a voice erupts over the speaker, announcing where the nearest exits are and to enjoy the show. The lights fade to a black out.

"Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba…"

The first line of the show bursts out of the dark as the lights come up revealing a beautiful set of oranges, reds, and yellows. A gigantic ribbed fabric sun rises from the ground and covers the entirety of the backdrop on the stage.

Pride Rock slowly moves its way on stage and stands proudly in the middle. It soon is decorated with many people costumed as animals. The intricate masks and beadwork stand out in each individual costume design, as well as the beautiful makeup design on each performer, created with bright colors on some and neutral on others.

One of the most incredible things to witness are the puppeteers hard at work. The show actually has over 232 puppets used throughout the production. Their puppets have difficult and unique mechanics that take time to master, so watching their intricate movements is particularly intriguing. One of the most beloved characters, Zazu, falls under the puppet category. The actor, being one of the main sources of comic relief in the show, is tasked with the creation of expression through a puppet and body movements, rather than his own expressions, which can pose a challenge. Luckily for the audience, these actors are some of the most talented and expressive.

In total, it took around 37,000 hours to build these masks and puppets to perfection. This is clear from how beautiful the show is when put all together. The show is the third longest running Broadway performance, which is not surprising at all. This spectacular show has been dazzling and warming the hearts of many for years, and will continue for many years to come.

If you haven’t had the chance to experience it, PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh is presenting The Lion King musical, performed at the Benedum Center downtown. Check out this once in a lifetime experience. I guarantee you’re in for a treat!