Circle of life brings Broadway hit 'The Lion King' to Hult in Eugene

"The Lion King" is a 6-time Tony award winning production - and the third longest running show in Broadway history. A touring production the live action retelling of Disney's animated classic opened this week at the Hult Center in Eugene. The show continues through January 20. (SBG)

EUGENE, Ore. - "The Lion King" is a 6-time Tony award winning production - and the third longest running show in Broadway history.

A touring production the live action retelling of Disney's animated classic opened this week at the Hult Center in Eugene. The show continues through January 20.

We went backstage to learn more about how the actors bring the production to life.

There are 230 puppets that help bring "The Lion King" to life on stage.

Puppetmaster Michael Reilly said producers knew early on that live actors in costume wouldn't be enough to bring the characters to life.

"We really tried to elevate that and put them in puppets," Reilly said.

The puppets are worn by the actors or hand-held.

That gives the characters "this kind of duality, where they are animals but also humans at the same time - so you see both of those facets of the character," Reilly said.

Actor Jared Dixon just couldn't wait to be king: He plays Simba as an adult.

"I've been challenged mentally, physically and emotionally," Dixon said. "From every aspect of the show I have gained so much knowledge about myself as a performer, as a person."

Simba's head-dress puppet is a custom - and snug - fit.

"It's got a little crank back here to make sure it's tight," he said.

The scene swirls to life on stage with an array of costumes and puppets accompanied by live music and lights.

For Dixon, being a part of this company is an honor and privilege.

"I think it's cool that I get to live out like my childhood dreams being the lion," he said.

And that completes a creative circle of life.

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