Arts

On Stage At Fox Theatre, ‘The Lion King’ Celebrates 20 Years

"The Lion King" is at the Fox Theatre through Jan. 28.
"The Lion King" is at the Fox Theatre through Jan. 28.
Credit Photo courtesy of Deen van Meer

Twenty years ago, the Lion King won the Tony for best new musical, along with many other awards.

Now, the show has toured all over the world, heralded for the intricacy of its stage design and costumes, amazing music, and talented, international cast.

The Lion King is onstage now at the Fox Theatre, and “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes spoke with the show’s director Dodd Loomis along with Ben Lipitz, who has portrayed Pumbaa on Broadway and on the national tour more than 5,000 times.

“The storytelling is the most important part of the show. Everything else serves that.,” said Lipitz, who as Pumbaa, wears and operates a 50 pound puppet. “It’s complicated to learn the different puppets … but at the same time, rehearsing without the puppet  feels awkward and naked.”

As director, Loomis talked about his many responsibilities during the tour.

“The mandate is to maintain the original artistic integrity of the show, so how do you do that 20 years later when there’s been 10,000 or so performances? How do you prevent it from being a museum piece, where everyone is reciting their lines? How do you keep it electric, explosive and dynamic?” he said. “One way to do that is to find an in with every performer so that they bring themselves on stage so that they take ownership of what they are doing.”

“The Lion King” is at the Fox Theatre through Jan. 28.