New Orleans

The Lion King - National Tour

Experience the circle of life as Disney’s beloved film comes to eye-popping life onstage.

Star J. Anthony Crane on Letting His ‘Animal Nature’ Take Over in The Lion King Tour

The elaborate costumes used in The Lion King and the ornate masks worn by some of the actors are part of what has made the show a stage phenomenon since its Broadway debut almost 15 years ago. The national tour will roar into New Orleans from March 14 through April 15, and J. Anthony Crane will be prowling the stage as the villainous Scar. Crane talked with about the logistics of his mask and how he suits up for the Disney spectacle.

The Scar mask pivots and lowers atop Crane’s head and is powered by a small motor; however, Crane says it’s his job to make it all seem as natural as possible. “The great challenge I have is to make a theatrical trick look like an organic event and not break people out of the moment,” Crane said. “The best way it was described to me was by our director Julie Taymor: Scar is giving into his animal nature when the mask comes down. He keeps it in check at the top of his head when he speaks in his normal voice, and when he can’t contain himself anymore, he lashes out and that’s when the mask lowers.”

Although Crane gets to bask in the glory of the eye-popping show, he admits that he wouldn’t mind playing a role that’s a little less high maintenance. “The next show I do, I would love to do it in my pajamas and have my head shaved,” Crane said with a laugh. “However, there’s a ritual to getting into the costume and the makeup; it’s kind of the fun of it. On the outside, the show is this children’s theatrical experience, but in the hands of Julie Taymor’s vision, it takes on a little bit more of a mystical, spiritual approach to theater. That whole process allows me to get into the mood and calm down going into the performance.”

In The Lion King, Crane is joined on stage by Jelani Remy as Simba, Dionne Randolph as Mufasa, Buyi Zama as Rafiki, Syndee Winters as Nala, Ben Lipitz as Pumbaa and Nick Cordileone as Timon.

Crane recognizes Taymor’s incorporation of both the masks and the traditions that come with them as “the power that has made the show so lasting. I love being a part of the imagination process of a child’s experience.”

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