Taymor made her Broadway directorial debut with 1996's Juan Darien, about a jaguar cub who transforms into a boy in the South American jungle. She co-wrote the mythic musical fable with Elliot Goldenthal, who created the show's Tony-nominated score.
Taymor collaborated with G. W. Mercier to design the production's elaborate sets and costumes, and she also served as puppet and mask designer. Theatre critic Ben Brantley commended the show's visual feats and accomplishments. Taymor "knows how to catch her audience off guard with inspired shifts of scale and perspective," he wrote in his New York Times review, "and there are times when you may feel exhilaratingly like Alice falling down Wonderland's rabbit hole."
Juan Darien was first seen in New York in a brief engagement presented by the Music-Theatre Group in 1988, and later ran Off-Broadway at St. Clement's Church in 1989. Its Broadway mounting opened Nov. 24, 1996, at the Vivian Beaumont Theater, where it ran for 49 performances. The production received five Tony nominations, including Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical.
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