Cat Mask Fever 

Contessa Gallery serves up Simba's head.

Lion King Masks are the mane event at Contessa - Gallery.
  • Lion King Masks are the mane event at Contessa Gallery.

Contessa Gallery is giving theatergoers an up-close look at The Lion King Masks, featuring 5 of the original 230 masks from the Broadway show. The exhibit, which remains on view throughout The Lion King's run at the State Theatre, features baby king-to-be Simba, the Lion King Mufasa, whimsical Zazu, leering Scar, and serene Nala.

Mufasa's mask, the largest in the show, measures nearly six feet square but weighs a mere 11 ounces. Julie Taymor, The Lion King's Tony Award-winning director and costume designer, made all 230 masks with Michael Curry from 750 pounds of silicone rubber, capturing both the beastly beauty and human element in each one. "At rest, a puppet is just a facsimile of a human being or animal," says Taymor, a 1974 Oberlin College folklore and mythology graduate. "When Zazu's wings flutter excitedly or Timon cocks his head at a quizzical angle, the pleasure of watching that facsimile turn into a being with recognizable emotions is the pinnacle of this type of theater experience." The Lion King Masks will be on display from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday and 10 a.m. to midnight Tuesday through Sunday, through August 17 at the Contessa Gallery, 1501 Euclid Avenue. Admission is free; call 216-861-9280. -- Cris Glaser

Australian for Cheer
The zoo celebrates an Aussie holiday.

SAT 7/26

The zoo's Halfway to Australia Day observes a holiday that happens six months earlier in the land down under. Cold weather, however, prevents Clevelanders from celebrating in January, explains zoo spokesperson (and transplanted Australian) Bek Mitchell-Kidd. "And it just fits in so well with our Australian Adventure [program]," she says. Activities include hands-on lessons about Australia's culture and customs: panning for gold, building your own Great Barrier Reef, playing didgeridoos, and tasting Australian delicacies. It happens Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo (3900 Wildlife Way). Zoo admission is $9 for adults, $4 for children; call 216-661-6500. -- Diane Sofranec

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