Disney’s The Lion King is famed for its spectacular costumes. Matt Clark, Head Of The Wardrobe Department, tells us about his favourite moments, biggest challenges and Julie Taymor’s incredible designs.
Tell us about your role and how long you’ve been working on this show.
I have been working on The Lion King since 2002. I started as a dresser and worked my way up to being Head Of Wardrobe. As Head Of Wardrobe, I am responsible for 21 members of staff. I am also responsible for all of the costumes in the show, ensuring all of them are well maintained and that any alterations are carried out when needed.
What’s a typical day for you?
My day starts at 9.30am. As soon as I get into the theatre, I will get the laundry started, each day we do 5 – 6 washing machine loads. I will then plan my day with my deputy – we assign daily tasks for each person. We’ll then also start preparing for any rehearsals that are happening. Through the day we will work on notes from the previous show, and do general maintenance to the costumes. Each day I have two assistants and three dressers to help. At 6pm, the whole department will be in and we begin setting up for that evening’s performance.
How do Julie Taymor’s incredible designs inspire your work on this show?
It is such a privilege to have the opportunity to work on costumes that were designed by The Lion King’s visionary director. We are continuously working to adhere to Julie’s incredible designs that demand a huge amount of attention to detail in order to maintain the visual aspect of the show.
What’s been your favourite moment with so far?
There have been so many fantastic moments, but I think my favourite project was helping to put together the ‘Exploring The Lion King’ exhibition that was on display in Regent Street which allowed guests to get an up-close look at the puppets and costumes on stage. I was also fortunate enough to be able to take the exhibition to Bristol, Edinburgh and Madrid.
What are the biggest challenges you deal with?
Once a year we have a cast change where rehearsals begin for the new actors joining the show, for six weeks we are effectively running two productions – one during the day in rehearsal spaces and then the actual show in the evening! Some years we have 23 people leave the cast – that is a lot of costumes!
What makes this show unique?
The use of puppetry, costumes, and incredible sets that are inspired by theatrical traditions and techniques from all around the world.
Who do you think the show appeals to?
I think the show appeals to everyone, both young and old. I also think it’s a great show for non-English speaking tourists, as I don’t think that you need to understand English in order to understand the story and enjoy the amazing music and visuals.
What is your favourite moment of the show, as an audience member?
The Circle Of Life at the very start of the show is truly spectacular! However I also really like watching The Stampede scene which is so dramatic and epic!