Meet the mastermind behind the puppets of 'Disney's The Lion King'

Before the giraffes, doves or even the gazelles come to life in the splendid Broadway production of Disney's The Lion King, Michael Reilly is the man who's put in hours of work to make it all seem real.

For more than a decade, Reilly has built and mantained the animal part of the actors in "The Lion King," which is in town now at the Detroit Opera House.

Throughout the show, actors perform seamlessly with the puppets. The puppets may be part of the costumes and some are completely separate. More than 200 puppets are used in the show, representing 25 different animals. You'll see everything from birds to fish to insects.

Not only do the 18-foot-tall giraffes have to dance, but the human aspect of each character also has to shine through.

"You know that Circle of Life comes and the animals go on stage, there's this swell of pride but there's also a little thing in the back of your mind thinking, 'I hope I did that right,'" Reilly admits.

Reilly says sometimes the costumes take a beating.

"Every single show something happens. They get treated like sledge hammers, It's okay; it's all in the performance, but it's my job to make sure they go out looking good as new the next day," he says.

The Lion King is at the Detroit Opera House now through February 26.

Tickets prices start at $25. You can get tickets  at all Ticketmaster locations, online at or, by phone at 1-800-982-2787 and at The Fisher Theatre box office and the Detroit Opera House box office.