‘The Lion King’ roars into Rochester for the holidays


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Disney Presents ‘The Lion King’ at Rochester’s Auditorium Theatre with performances beginning December 19 through January 5.

Two of the show’s performers, Thembelihle Cele and Derek Adams, discussed what makes the long-running musical so special each night Tuesday during News 8 at Noon.

“For me personally, I’m in the vocal ensemble, so it’s coming down the aisle, the procession at the top of every show and seeing the audience members’ reactions to the show because there’s so much to take in and to see,” said Cele. “It’s seeing the reactions of the people and their faces. Just like when they hear that call for the first time, that sets the tone for the show for me every night.”

Before becoming a performer in ‘The Lion King’ Adams was inspired by it. “To be able to perform this music every night is so exciting,” he said. ” ‘The Lion King’ has been running for over 20 years, making its Broadway debut about 22 years ago. I saw the show when I was eight or nine years old and – flash forward 20 plus years later – I get to be in the show that really shaped me as an artist. When I saw the show and saw the world that the theater can create, I kind of got hooked.”

Rochester is home to famed ‘Lion King’ choreographer Garth Fagan. The dancing and movement on the stage are truly unique. “It’s so incredible,” Adams said. “The dancers that we have are some of the best dancers in the world and the choreography every night is so athletic and impactful. It’s really thrilling to watch.”

Adams hopes his performance will touch young audience members and Cele agrees. “I hope to inspire at least one person in that audience,” she said of each performance. “The show is for everyone, for people of all ages. And for me personally, I hope they take away just how much of our souls and our hearts that we put into the show every night to tell the story. And I hope to inspire at least one young life, one young mind to aspire to be on this stage someday too because it’s no small feat. It’s truly a show unlike any other.”

To get your tickets for Disney Presents ‘The Lion King’ visit the Auditorium Theater Box Office or go online to the Rochester Broadway Theatre League website.

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