Disney’s ‘’The Lion King’ returns to Benedum Stage; offers Autism-friendly performance

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JELANI REMY AND ENSEMBLE

Steven Taylor is excited to be continuing the rich history culture and the African mask work that makes up part of the majesty of “The Lion King.”

“To see African-Americans represented like we are in this show, there’s nothing like it,” said Taylor, a native son of Indianapolis who currently resides in New York City. He has been a member of the show’s cast for eight years starting out as a member of the show’s ensemble before taking on the pivotal roles of bad boy lion, Scar and Pride Rock patriarch, Mufasa.

Taylor will be reprising his role as Mufasa when he and the rest of the talented cast bring the timeless story once again to Pittsburgh’s Benedum Center for a three week stint beginning September 3 and running through September 29.

STEVEN TAYLOR

It is part of the PNC Broadway Across America Pittsburgh series, presented by arrangement with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Broadway Across America and the Pittsburgh Symphony.

A special Autism-friendly performance of the “Lion King” will be held on Saturday, Sept. 21 at 2 p.m. Pittsburgh will serve as the third city in the country to present an Autism-friendly show that caters to the needs of adults and children on every aspect of the Autism spectrum.

“We did the shows in New York and they are always our best audience,” Taylor said. “It’s a lot for anyone who sees the show for the first time but those kids and adults are amazing. It’s amazing to watch them watch us.”

The performance will provide a friendly and supportive environment for the audience. Slight adjustments will be made to the production including the reduction of jarring sounds and strobe lights directed into the audience will be eliminated. Quiet spaces in the Benedum Center lobby will provide activity areas for families and trained staff members will provide encouragement and assistance to patrons.

“The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust remains committed to making theater and the arts accessible to all audiences and is proud to underwrite all tickets for this special performance, making it affordable to patrons on the spectrum,” said Rona Nesbit, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s executive vice president. Everyone deserves the opportunity to enjoy this world-class production and we will continue to direct attention to matters of inclusion and accessibility.”

“The Lion King,” now in its 16th year, is the highest grossing Broadway show in New York history and is one of the most spectacular and popular musicals in the world. Since its Broadway debut on November 13, 1997, 21 global productions have been experienced by more than 70 million people and is the second show in history to generate five worldwide productions running more than a decade. “The Lion King” has been translated into eight different languages—German, Korean, French, Japanese, Dutch, Mandarin, Spanish and Portuguese.

“The story of the lion trying to find his home again is what resonates with people. The show is always evolving and bringing in new people and opening you up to new experiences,” Taylor said. “The show itself and story make it successful. It’s a spectacle in its own right. It’s a simple story that people can relate to.”

“The Lion King” won six 1998 Tony® Awards:  Best Musical, Best Scenic Design (Richard Hudson), Best Costume Design (Julie Taymor), Best Lighting Design (Donald Holder), Best Choreography (Garth Fagan) and Best Direction of a Musical.  “The Lion King” has also earned more than 70 major arts awards including the 1998 NY Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, the 1999 Grammy® for Best Musical Show Album, the 1999 Evening Standard Award for Theatrical Event of the Year and the 1999 Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Choreography and Best Costume Design.

It can currently be seen on Broadway and on tour throughout the United Kingdom and on tour in Tokyo, London, Germany, Madrid, Sao Paolo and North America. It has played 98 cities in 17 countries on every continent except Antarctica.

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