A scene from the award-winning musical The Lion King.
A scene from the award-winning musical The Lion King. Joan Marcus

A look inside The Lion King's backstage choreography

AFRICA is known for the "big five" but everything is big in The Lion King.

From life-sized animal puppets to the powerhouse voices of its talented cast, the Tony Award-winning musical is a visual spectacle rivalling the vibrant life of the Savannah itself.

But it's the show behind the show that fans rarely get to see.

The choreographed moves on stage are mirrored, and amplified behind the scenes.

During a backstage tour of the show in Sydney, production stage manager Matthew Henderson told APN how the crew outnumbers the cast three to one.

It takes a behind-the-scenes army of nearly 150 people to run the show, and they do it like clockwork.

They must to ensure say, a giant elephant puppet doesn't block a performer's exit to the wings and that in their mad dash to get ready for the next scene the cast put on the right costumes, which include custom-made and fitted helmets, masks and shoes.

"It has to be precise," Henderson said.

"It's a tight ship just to make sure everyone is safe."

Dozens of costumes and set pieces hang from the rafters to keep backstage pathways clear.

It took 18 semi-trailers to transport the vast array of costumes, puppets, equipment and set pieces from Sydney to Brisbane.

The show's debut Queensland season was expanded several times to meet demand when tickets went on sale in April.

Preview performances run all this week ahead of Friday's official opening night.

The Lion King runs Wednesdays through Sundays at QPAC's Lyric Theatre until January 25, 2015.