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Grants Pass grad designed giant lion in halftime show

The Michael Curry Design team waited until after halftime of the Super Bowl to let the cat out of the bag — that it created the giant lion that carried singer Katy Perry.

"We hope you all enjoyed the Super Bowl Halftime show today!" read a post on the company Facebook page. "We are so proud of our piece."

Perry sang her 2013 hit song "Roar" while perched on the surprisingly agile lion, which was powered by 13 black-clad puppeteers walking under and behind it.

That lion was the latest in a long line of creations of Michael Curry, the man behind the curtain at Michael Curry Design, which occupies a large complex and employs about 35 people in Scappoose, 30 miles northwest of Portland.

Curry, 56, a 1976 Grants Pass High graduate who was already back in Scappoose Monday afternoon, said it was his best effort of the four Super Bowl shows with which he's been involved.

"I was very proud of it being a great entrance for Katy. It did its job beautifully," he said. "It had everything I wanted. I wanted it to be extremely big and powerful, and also beautiful."

Curry's work, covering three decades, melds not only fabric and metal, but puppetry, music, dancing and theater.

He's done so many of the world's largest stages — the Olympics, Disney shows, Broadway, Cirque Du Soleil, and theme parks — that the Super Bowl seemed like another day at the office.

It thrilled millions.

"This was the best thing to ever be seen at a halftime show, in my opinion," posted one admirer on the Facebook page.

Curry called the thrilling Super Bowl game a "perfect pairing" with the show.

The lion took six weeks to build, made of polycarbon fiber for light weight, mounted with more than 2,000 mirror panels.

"We use a lot of aerospace technology. This piece couldn't have been made 10 years ago," Curry said.

Colleen Ohler, purchasing agent for the company, said the lion may have generated the most response of any Curry creation to date.

"We had four news channels call today. We've heard from the BBC, Inside Edition. It made quite a splash," Ohler said. "This was his most-noticed effort. People are amazed and thrilled.

"I don't watch football, but I made sure I watched that."

She also put to rest any debates she saw online about whether it was a lion or a tiger.

"It has a mane. There are lines in the song about lions. It's a lion," she said.

Curry said his artistic talents were encouraged by his mother, Nadine Ham, who still lives in Grants Pass.

"She's my biggest fan, and I'm her biggest fan," Curry said. "She was very creative."

Curry went to art school in Portland and began as a sculptor. He moved to costumes and puppets when he went to New York in the early 1980s to work on Broadway. He started his own design company in 1986.

Katy Perry performs during halftime of the NFL Super Bowl XLIX football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
MICHAEL CURRY