If you oohed and aahed over the cute and cuddly characters in Disney’s movie The Lion King, just wait until you see their stage counterparts. This time you’ll find yourself speechless. Through December 4, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts is featuring the Broadway musical The Lion King, and the costumes and set design just might bring tears to your eyes.

In the opening scene alone, a giant African sun rises on the stage, and you are immediately engulfed in an animal cavalcade complete with elephants, rhinos, giraffes, and leaping antelope, to name a few. One or more actors or actresses beautifully operates each animal and is dressed in a monochromatic outfit that blends in with that animal’s hide. Not only does this draw more attention to the animal, but also allows the audience to engage in the humanistic personalities of the animals.

My favorites included the cheetah, whose graceful movements were simply captivating, and Timon, whose operator proved to be a true puppeteer. Riveting, eye-catching, and emotionally charged, this musical is a must see for anyone who appreciates true craftsmanship.

—Image: André Jackson as “Simba” and the Ensemble singing “He Lives In You.” Photo: Joan Marcus; ©Disney