Joseph Beagley is the Head of Masks And Puppets at Disney’s The Lion King. He chats about his work on the magical show, and what is involved in running the busy Masks And Puppets Department.
Tell us about your role and how long you’ve been working on this show.
I joined The Lion King as a casual Masks And Puppet Assistant in late 2005. Since then I have slowly worked my way up to become the Head of the department.
What’s a typical day for you?
My team start work at 9.30am every day. Our first job is to check all of the masks and the puppets and do any repairs that are necessary following the previous night’s performance. The team will also factor in any major refurbishments to the puppets – a lot of our work will involve making and fitting elements for new cast members and preparing rehearsals for them as some of the puppetry is quite intricate.
How do Julie Taymor’s incredible designs inspire your work on this show?
Disney is a company with a strong desire to push boundaries and embrace new technology. A lot has changed since the show was first developed almost 20 years ago, but we always strive to stay true to Julie’s vision. Many of the components that go into the masks and the puppets are still made by us by hand. It is labour intensive but the end result is a show that is rich in colour and texture.
What are the biggest challenges you deal with?
The biggest challenge for me is to keep the show looking as fresh as it did the day it opened. Luckily I have a dedicated and talented team to help me do this!
What makes this show unique?
For me, what makes the show unique is the way Julie has managed to amalgamate cultural influences from around the world into a coherent display of colour, movement, texture and sound. There is nothing like it.
Who do you think the show appeals to?
There is something in the show for everyone. It is not unusual to have non-English speaking members of the audience who still seem to have beaming smiles when we see them come out of the theatre.
Why should people book to see the show?
The Lion King is an experience you will not forget and if you can share that with someone it is all the more special.
What is your favourite moment of the show, as an audience member?
The Stampede scene is truly awesome but I have a real soft spot for the scenes with the African ensemble numbers such as the Grasslands and One By One.