THEATER: NO DANCING TEAPOTS

JULIE TAYMOR CREATES STAGE MAGIC IN JUAN DARIEN, BUT WHAT ON EARTH WILL SHE DO WITH THE LION KING?

The first characters to appear onstage are a pair of copulating jaguars--or, rather, a pair of copulating life-size puppet jaguars manipulated by people hidden in the stage blackness. The animals produce a cub, which later turns into a human child--which still later changes from a puppet into a real live boy. Oversize masks hide most of the remaining actors, from the stern-faced schoolteacher with his crooked, elongated finger to a snarling, flamenco-dancing tiger tamer. Butterflies float across the stage, a miniature church breaks apart when leaves erupt from inside it, and a dancing skeleton in a bowler hat is a macabre...

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