Learning how to work the puppets backstage at Disney’s ‘The Lion King Musical’

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)- Disney's "The Lion King Musical" is now playing at the Saenger Theater, and it is a roaring hit!  The wonderful music, the beautiful costumes, the elaborate set design, and the puppets all make "The Lion King" a must-see.

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News with a Twist Reporter Kenny Lopez got a dream come true assignment.  He got to go backstage of the show to learn about the masks and the high-tech puppets you'll see on stage.

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Puppet master Michael Reilly said the puppets and the masks help make the show come to life.  The masks and the puppets work as an artistic expression of the actors to add to each unique character in the show.

The masks are specially molded to fit the size of each actor's head.  The puppets are controlled by the individual actors using clickers and hand-held devices to maneuver the puppets, like Zazu the bird.

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"The Lion King" also features elaborate costumes like the grass heads used by dancers in the show.  The grass heads weigh about 4 pounds. Dancers must keep their bodies as stiff as possible.

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Michael Reilly hails from Toronto, Canada and trained at Danforth Technical Academy. His training included fixing cars, painting canvases and most everything in between.

In addition to working on "The Lion King" since 2000, he was also an original company member of the "Lord of the Rings" musical. Other shows include "Les Miserables," "The Who's Tommy," "Miss Saigon," "Phantom of the Opera," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and many others over the last 25 years.

"The Lion King" is showing at The Saenger Theater through Sunday, January 29th.   For tickets, click HERE.