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Arts and Entertainment

Wardrobe fit for a ‘Lion King’ cast
Beads and feathers require nimble care
Published Wednesday, August 29, 2018 1:21 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

Welcome to the Bunker.

Wardrobe resided beneath the stage when “The Lion King” made its Broadway premiere at the New Amsterdam Theater on Nov. 13, 1997. Just shy of its 21st birthday, the show’s stop in Charlotte at Belk Theater, which runs through Sept. 9, does not include a similar setup, but the name remains the same.

“In the original Broadway show, this was underneath the stage,” said “The Lion King” wardrobe supervisor Gregory Young. “That’s why it’s called the Bunker, and the name just stuck. This is where everything happens as far as the performers changing clothes.”

Young has been with the show since its Broadway beginning, developing a science over the last 18 years.  

“There are five different shops that make different costumes,” he said. “When we put in the order, we have to give them eight weeks.”

A single performance includes hundreds of costumes with different facets depending on whether a performer’s role includes singing, dancing or a combination of the two.
“There are 250 costumes in the show every night,” Young said. “We travel with 350.”

Each stop on the tour includes bringing in local assistance.

“In each city, we pick up 16 local dressers, and they are one dresser per closet,” Young said. “You would have three performers in this closet, and then the dresser is always a scene ahead of the performer. Say they are on stage as a wildebeest, and say the next thing is a hyena. The hyena would go down on the bench, and everything that they need to wear with it will be preset. They’ll come, take [the wildebeest costume] off, and put it in the bottom of the gondola, and put on their next costume. In each city we have to give the local dresser what we call track notes. They have to follow these notes as far as where they need to be, and what they are presetting.”

The show took home six Tony Awards in 1998, including Best Costume Design (Julie Taymor).

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