FRIDAY & SATURDAY

Fourteen years before American director-designer Julie Taymor won the 1998 Tony Award for directing Broadway’s The Lion King—surely you recall Taymor’s eye-popping masks and movements—she faced another theatrical challenge. In 1984, she was asked to develop Asian-influenced puppets and costumes for an adaptation of “The King Stag,” Italian fabulist Carlo Gozzi’s 18th-century commedia dell’arte. Taymor, who had been studying Asian dance and drama, jumped at the opportunity, and the Massachusetts-based American Repertory Theatre work became a small success. Now thanks to Taymor’s high visibility—a traveling exhibit of her design work is currently on view at D.C.’s National Museum of Women in the Arts—American Rep and the play’s 1984 director Andrei Serban have revived the production for a 66-city United States tour. Serban and Taymor’s The King Stag is a multicultural parable: King Deramo seeks a woman who will love him, not his royal status. When he finally finds his true love, Tartaglia, the evil prime minister, tricks Deramo and transforms him with a magic spell. Chaos erupts and, well, you can guess how this tale ends. While some reviews of earlier tour performances have criticized the play’s dialogue, there’s been nothing but praise for Taymor’s vibrant flying bird and butterfly kites and the clever puppet and human shadow play. At 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8, and Saturday, Dec. 9, at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts Concert Hall, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax. $21-$42. (703) 218-6500. (Steve Kiviat)