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April 4, 2005 // UPDATED 1:53 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Anna Pratt
Anna Pratt

The wonderful world of the king

Disney's "The Lion King' lives out the prophesy of its own hit song, "The Circle of Life" as it returns to its pre-Broadway starting point in Minneapolis in 1997. Since then, the tale that's popular among both adults and children has accrued six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and has enjoyed constant sold-out status in New York.

Practically everyone's effort has been recognized with awards in this production (from backstage to onstage). So what makes this lively fable so great? Well, for starters over 200 puppets create the illusion of the African animal kingdom that includes 25 varieties of animals, birds, fish and insects. That was no easy task. Technicians devoted 17,000 hours of their lives to constructing the elaborate puppets and masks that range broadly in size and ornamentation. The giraffes themselves span 18 feet while the trick mouse is only five inches long. That's not all. The intricate grasslands headdresses eat up 3,000 stalks of grass yearly. About 143 people are needed to orchestrate this epic effort everyday. But even with all of the special effects, the audience's imaginations are still essential to the chemistry of the show since viewers must "see" the half-puppet half-human characters as a coherent whole.

- Tu-Su Apr. 7-May 29, Tu-Th 7:30 p.m., F 8 p.m.,
Sa 2 p.m. & 8 p.m., Su 1 p.m. & 6:30 p.m.
Orpheum, 910 Hennepin Ave. S.
$25-$128. 651-989-5151. www.hennepintheatredistrict.com.

Unsolved mysteries

The play "Visitatio Sepulchri" (or the "Dublin Mystery Play") in some circles features ancient vocal music to recreate the astonishing moment when Christ's body was found vanished from his tomb. What was it like to be Mary, Mary or Mary (since three Marys made the detection) at that moment after they already turned on the "no vacancy" sign just outside the tomb and everything? What if they hadn't come to drop off flowers? What really happened?

A body couldn't just get up and walk. Nor would it be very easy to steal the lead weight of a lifeless body out of a burial place, especially without leaving behind any traces. Local composer Abbie Betinis created new music for the show; Jeff Bartlett designed the lighting, and Matt Jenson's New and Slightly Used Dance troupe provides the choreography to evoke the unsolved mystery. Copies of the original medieval manuscript will also be displayed outside of the auditorium in the theater's lobby.

- Th-Su Apr. 7-10, Th 7:30 p.m., F-Sa 8 p.m., Su 7 p.m.
Southern Theater, 1420 Washington Ave. S.
$15-$25. 340-1725. www.southerntheater.org.