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Acting Avian

As Zazu in 'The Lion King,' William Akey Spends a Lot of Time in a Bird Suit

June 03, 2001|DARCY RICE

Politicians may denounce the entertainment industry's influence on American families, but actor William Akey's life is a study in solid domesticity. Akey plays Zazu, the bird major-domo in the Los Angeles production of "The Lion King." Recently we followed him as he made the transition from domestic dad to blue-faced bird, a process he goes through eight times a week.

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4:39 p.m. Akey finishes dinner with his wife, Lynette, and their two sons, Noah, 7, and Nick, 5. Lynette, a producer for the "KTLA Morning News," has arrived just in time for the family to eat together. Akey is in charge of preparing dinner, along with caring for Nick during the day.

5:28 Driving to the theater, Akey does his vocal warmups.

6:14 Akey arrives at the Pantages Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. He enters through the stage door and signs in at the callboard.

6:17 The actor goes into the empty house, where he spends a few moments alone, a custom he has followed for years.

6:25 In his dressing room, which he shares with John Vickery, the actor who plays the villain Scar, Akey sips a cup of coffee. "I don't have a crossword today," he says.

6:37 Akey's dresser brings in part of his costume. "Your tail was just cleaned."

6:50 Akey goes to the hair-and-makeup station down the hall. He takes the current issue of Martha Stewart Living to read while in the chair.

7:10 Akey's face is completely blue. "I still have his eyes and lips to do," makeup artist Darren Jinks says. "He has to come back later for his wig and his hat."

7:19 Jinks asks Akey, who has a reputation as a do-it-yourself type, for advice on installing a low-flow toilet.

7:21 Akey returns to his dressing room to don his costume.

7:55 After the call for "places," Akey heads for the lobby.

8:07 As Zazu, Akey enters during the spectacular opening number, "Circle of Life."

10:45 The cast takes its final bow. When the curtain drops, he heads to his dressing room.

11:13 Sans costume and makeup, Akey leaves the theater.

11:35 The actor arrives home; Lynette and the boys are asleep. He walks the family dogs, Buddy and Dottie, and makes Noah's lunch for school tomorrow. He sets the coffee maker's timer for the morning.

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