Michael Curry (puppet designer)

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Michael Curry
Occupation Costume Designer, Puppet Designer

Michael Curry is an American production designer who lives in Portland, Oregon. He is also the owner and President of Michael Curry Design Inc. in Scappoose, Oregon,[1] which was started in 1986.[2]

Curry works widely in technical development with such renowned entertainment companies as Cirque du Soleil, the Metropolitan Opera, London's Royal National Theatre, Walt Disney Theatrical, Los Angeles Opera and Universal Studios. He works regularly with directors such as Robert Lepage, Nicholas Hytner, Julie Taymor and William Friedken. He has also worked with production designers such as Mark Fisher and Eiko Ishioka. Michael has been the recipient of many distinguished and sought-after awards from his peers, including various awards for his puppet and costume work on Broadway, Olympic ceremonies and his continuing creations and views in the fields of visual effects and puppetry design. He owns, operates, and leads Michael Curry Design Inc., which designs and creates live-performance oriented dimensional characters and productions, such as those seen by worldwide audiences in the 1996 and 2002 Olympics opening and closing ceremonies, in the 2000 Super Bowl, and New York City's epoch 2000 millennium event.[3]

Olympic work[edit]

2002 Winter Olympics[edit]

Curry designed the opening ceremonies for the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City in 2002. The first notable American event following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the ceremony blended light, puppets, and story.[4]

1996 Olympics[edit]

Curry also designed the opening ceremonies for the 1996 Olympics, which were a mix of movement, costume, and puppetry.


Main article: Epcot

At Epcot, in Disney World, Curry created 120 towering puppets, which he titled the Tapestry of Nations (would later become Tapestry of Dreams), that paraded around the lake when sunset arrived. This parade featured the largest speaker system in the world, featuring 416 speakers and 137 amplifiers.[5] The parade ended in March 2003 in its Tapestry of Dreams form. The puppets themselves have occasionally been brought out for special events.

Theatrical work[edit]

Curry works often in theatre, often collaborating with Julie Taymor. He has worked on Broadway, at The Metropolitan Opera, and at festivals such as the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. Curry also designed the costumes for the opera version of Oedipus Rex.

The Lion King[edit]

Curry was made famous not only by the Olympic ceremonies he designed, but also for his puppet co-design in the highly acclaimed musical, The Lion King. He would join the rest of the cast and crew to win six Tony Awards, including the Tony Award for Best Musical for Disney Theatrical Productions, Best Direction of a Musical for Julie Taymor, and Best Choreography for Garth Fagan. Julie Taymor would win the Tony Award for Best Costume Design.

The Magic Flute[edit]

Main article: The Magic Flute

Michael Curry was the co-designer of puppets with Julie Taymor.

Cirque Du Soleil[edit]

Curry designed the puppets for the Cirque Du Soleil shows (directed by Robert Lepage at the MGM Grand Las Vegas, and LOVE (directed by Dominique Champagne at the MGM Mirage, also in Las Vegas). He also designed the illusions for the upcoming show, Cirque du Soleil and Criss Angel at the LUXOR 2009. Michael was the scenic and puppet designer for Cirque du Soleil's Michael Jackson's Immortal World Tour.

Center for Puppetry Arts[edit]

Three major pieces by Curry are on permanent display at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, Georgia - an interactive full-body puppet of a praying mantis, a 9-foot-tall (2.7 m) animatronic original by Curry called the Trashcan Phoenix, and a user-controlled animatronic puppet of Xelas, a shapechanger from Native American mythology.[6]


  • Emmy Award for the 2002 Olympics Opening Ceremony in Salt Lake City
  • Emmy Award for Puppet Design of the 2002 Olympics
  • Emmy Award for 1996 Olympics Opening Ceremony (Outstanding Art Direction for a Variety or Music Program)
  • Emmy Award for Oedipus Rex (Best Masks, Costumes, and Body Sculpture)
  • Drama Desk Award for The Lion King (Outstanding Puppet Design)
  • Top 100 Honoree by Irish America Magazine, 2000
  • Cannes Film Festival, Performance Pieces, Art Director (Best Fiction, Short)
  • Best Live Opera for Oedipus Rex (European Opera Assoc.)
  • The American Theater Wing Designer Award for The Lion King
  • Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, (Distinguished Achievement) 2000 Mask & Puppet Design, Co-Designer with Julie Taymor, The Lion King
  • Entertainment Design and Theatre Crafts International, 1999 EDDY Award (Puppet Designer)
  • Featured Artist, Prague Quadrennial (2007)
  • Risorgiomento Creativity Award (for lifelong creativity and risk taking in the fields of technical and Artistic Design), 2001


  1. ^ BizBash Media:Michael Curry Design Inc.
  2. ^ ECNext Inc.: Company Profile-Michael Curry Design Inc.
  3. ^ Michael Curry: Michaelcurrydesign.com/bio.html
  4. ^ Michael Curry: michaelcurrydesign.com/gallery.html
  5. ^ Walt Disney World Magic.com: Tapestry of Nations
  6. ^ http://www.puppet.org/museum/permanent.shtml Center for Puppetry Arts - Permanent Exhibit

External links[edit]