‘The Lion King’ musical cast to mark Black History Month with ‘Black excellence in the arts’ celebration

"The Lion King" touring company's cast members and others will perform and engage with students in a one-night event in California.

“The Lion King” North American tour is underway, bringing Disney’s beloved stage show to theaters nationwide. Currently playing at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California, the show tells the iconic story of Simba as he steps into his legacy as king of Pride Rock, complete with those classic Elton John tunes.

Darian Sanders as Simba and Khalifa White as Nala share a scene in “The Lion King.” (©Disney) (Photo by Matthew Murphy.jpg)

TheGrio caught up with two cast members from the show, Darian Sanders (Simba) and Khalifa White (Nala), during their stop in Costa Mesa. For Black History Month, Sanders, White and their co-star Mukelisiwe Goba will perform songs from the show accompanied by Donald Taylor & the L.A. Mass Choir for a one-night-only concert hosted by the Black Music Collective and “The Lion King” on Monday honoring “Black excellence in the arts.”

The event will feature not only performances from the company of “The Lion King,” but also attendance by music legends like Rickey Minor, who will provide master classes to “select students.” Also participating are 1500 Sound Academy, Debbie Allen Dance Academy, Education Through Music–Los Angeles, Grammy U, and Music Will, helping kids learn various ways they can pursue their passions in the arts.

“What we do on stage is a beautiful, phenomenal thing,” Sanders explained when discussing their work on the tour. “We get to do eight shows a week and we bring Black excellence to the stage. Not just Black excellence, we bring excellence to the arts. And so to exemplify and bring this to this celebration on the 19th, it’s going to be utterly amazing.”

“It’s still the same story, but you don’t have all the lights, costumes, sound and the makeup and all of these things that couple with it,” he continued. “You’re going to get a phenomenal performance, we’re going to do a Q&A, which I’m super excited about as well. But then also, we get to inspire, by the song, by our presence, by what we bring to the table, by ourselves. And you get to see our story in the story from the stage, and I’m excited about that.” 

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Speaking to the power of Monday’s show, White told us, “How do you authentically bring yourself to whatever it is you do, whether it’s artistic or not? So I would like to hope that someone is inspired and is encouraged that the things that you know God made special for them, the traits and the characteristics that God gave to them, are the very things that can help them flourish.”

The event takes place at The Novo on Monday, Feb. 19 from 5-7 p.m.

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