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Anthony Padilla, Wardrobe Assistant Supervisor for Disney’s The Lion King, Shares What It’s Like Backstage at the Iconic Show.

Written By: Susan Krupa King of the Costumes: An Insider Look at Costuming for The Lion King

As Disney’s The Lion King opens at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts this week, people who see the show will be mesmerized by the now famous puppetry, music, dance and innovative costumes. Disney’s The Lion King runs Oct. 6 to Nov. 1 at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Tickets start at $31. Click here for more information. Special after-show Q&A sessions with The Lion King cast are held Thursdays Oct. 15, Oct. 22 and Oct. 29.

Wardrobe Assistant Supervisor Anthony Padilla is one of two full time staff members who are responsible for the upkeep of all the costumes for the show while it’s on tour. A Southern California local, he graduated from Katella High in Anaheim, then went on to study both fashion and theatre at Fullerton College and Cal State Long Beach. In a recent interview, he shed light on what goes on backstage and the upkeep for all those vibrant, signature garments.

Q: How did you become interested in costuming?
Anthony Padilla: I went to CSULB for theater—that’s where I got into costume design. After graduating, I started with the Long Beach Civic Live Opera.

Q: How long have you worked on The Lion King?
AP: When the show was in Los Angeles in 2003, I was hired as a local hire and then three months later I was hired on permanently. So it’s been a long time. The show is received so well everywhere, it makes me feel proud to be part of the show. Plus, with each city it’s a new show and a new theatre.

Q: How do local hires work?
AP: We always hire locals in every city and pick up 17 dressers. We will get the local theater the requirements in advance and they find the local staff.

Q: How do you get a full-time job as part of a wardrobe department?
AP: Being in the right place at the right time and having a good work ethic. Have some respect for others and do the job you were assigned to do. For me, I also told people I was interested in touring and then the production supervisor remembered me and how I had been asking questions and being curious about the show.

Q: What is your role while the show is on the road?
AP: I train the laundry people how to do the laundry. I train the four bumper dressers who dress the male ensemble and train stage left.

Q: What do you do while the show is being performed?
AP: I’m always there during the show in case something goes wrong. If a dresser cancels or a repair is needed, I jump in to help.

Q: Are there extra costumes in case they get damaged?
AP: No, there is one of every costume. If there is a rip or tear and it needs to be repaired, there are two stitchers and a beader who work an hour before the show to do last minute repairs.

Q: How is the laundry organized?
AP: Some costumes have to be washed every other show—anything that is close to the actor’s body. Some other items have to be washed every day. In every city we have one laundry person who does laundry all day, every day using three washers and dryers.

Q: Where does the fabric come from for the costumes?
AP: The Lion King has its own fabrics and its own store in New York to provide fabric to the productions.

Q: Is the wardrobe department responsible for the animal props such as giraffes and elephants as well as the costuming?
AP: We are a unique show because there is a puppet department and a wardrobe department. For example, for the giraffe, the stilts and the head are part of the puppet department but the suit and padding are costumes. For the bird ladies, the hats are hair and makeup and the top of the hats are costumes.

Q: How is this show different from other shows you have worked on?
AP: It’s similar in the way that the dressing actually works and the backstage components. The puppets are unique as well as that the show appeals to a wide audience. It’s great to see the range of ages that come to the show.

Q: What is your favorite part of the show?
AP: “One by One.”

Segerstrom Center for the Arts
600 Town Center Ave
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
714.556.2787 | www.scfta.org