On The Town: Bras, zip-ties part of Lion King wardrobe 'tricks'

By Allison Walker Torres, Entertainment Reporter/Anchor
Last Updated: Friday, February 23, 2018, 4:59 PM EST

Broadway shows that are on tour can get a little iffy about showing too much stuff backstage. But we got full access to the wardrobe "bunker" belonging to the cast of The Lion King.

  • 'The Lion King' now playing at Dr. Phillips Center
  • 220 costume pieces on stage every night
  • Playing at the center through March 11

The six-time Tony Award-winning production is now playing at the Dr. Phillips Center. During our visit to the theater this week, we quickly realized that pulling off a big number on stage requires just as much choreography backstage.

"For me, the whole backstage show is sexy," said Gretchen Heidenreich, assistant wardrobe supervisor.

In each city along the tour, Heidenreich and her team hire 18 locals to work just on wardrobe. Every three actors is assigned one dresser, who might need a minute to get the flow.

"We do a run-through with them, and they've never done it," said ensemble actor Selloane Nkhela. "So can you imagine what happens? Yeah, so sometimes we make it on stage the first day and sometimes you don't."

A whopping 220 costume pieces are on stage every night. They're sorted in a backstage "bunker," with three actors to a pod (which is modular, so it folds up easily for transport).

Some tricks of the trade might surprise you, like the chin strap of a few of the hats.

They're bra straps.

"And then they usually have a decorative leather strap as well," Heidenreich said.

Another fun fact: "We use a lot of zip ties," she added, pointing one out on a lion mask.

Thirty-five actors are on stage during a show. Forty-nine actors, though, are on tour.

For Nkhela, who happens to live in Central Florida, being on stage at the Dr. Phillips Center is a big deal.

"Who doesn't want to be in the Lion King?!" she beamed. "Who doesn't want to be in Lion King?! I've come here to just see shows, and now I'm in it. It's like, whoa. It doesn't get better than that. It doesn't get better than that."

The Lion King is at the Dr. Phillips Center through March 11. Tickets start at $35.25.