Lion King performers visit USC

Published Sep 25, 2013 at 6:33 pm (Updated Sep 24, 2013 at 4:21 pm)

It’s not often that high school students get the chance to meet entertainment professionals, much less ask questions of them. But, a group of about 200 students from Upper St. Clair High School’s bands, choirs and strings programs had that opportunity last week.

“Are you ready for a surprise?” Disney Performance Arts representative asked the students as cast members of “The Lion King” made their entrance center stage in the school’s theatre. The visit, “a special treat” as one student called it, was arranged by Disney Youth Programs to recognize USC’s past performances at Walt Disney World Resort, and to celebrate the school’s plans to perform at the resort again in April.

For almost an hour, students got to hear from and interact with Nia Holloway (“Nala”), Dashaun Young (“Simba”), Nick Cordileone (“Timon”), flutist Darlene Drew and dance captain Kendra Moore, providing the music students the chance to learn about life as an entertainment professional.

The performers are part of the PNC Broadway Series co-sponsored road show production of “The Lion King – The Musical,” currently at Pittsburgh’s Benedum Theatre until Sept. 29. The breathtaking spectacle of animals brought to life by award-winning director Julie Taymor features innovative and ingenious puppeteer-like costume design, rhythms of the African pride lands, and an unforgettable score including Elton John and Tim Rice’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and “Circle Of Life”.

Disney Performing Arts is a series of workshops, competitions, festivals and events designed to help participants showcase and develop their talent through exclusive opportunities that only Disney can provide. Participating groups can sing, dance and shine in the spotlight on world-famous Disney stages, taking their talents to new heights and creating memories that will last a lifetime. Disney Performing Arts programs promote leadership, discipline and life skills that students can take beyond performance and apply to their career goals and aspirations.

The annual USC music trip to Florida, occurring once every four years, involves up to 200 musicians and singers, and celebrates their accomplishments by participating in Disney Orlando workshops, concerts, parades and adjudications. Directed by Performing Arts Curriculum Leader and Band Director Don Pickell, Band Director Frank Eisenreich and Choral Director Lorraine Milovac, and backed by an active Band Parents Association and Choral Boosters support groups, each musical family will raise more than $1,000 to participate in what graduating seniors have dubbed “the best five-day trip of their entire high school career.”

USC’s Performing Arts ensembles have a long tradition of superior and top-ranking ratings at international festivals, local and national parades, and Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) Large Group Adjudication Festivals. Every year, students distinguish themselves by earning placement in PMEA District, PMEA Region-State, PMEA All-State, NAfME Eastern Division and NAfME All-National Bands, Orchestras, and Choruses.

Most recently, USC groups have collaborated in performances with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, River City Brass Band, Pittsburgh Civic Orchestra and international soprano star Giorgia Fumanti. Selected by a competitive process involving audition CDs, Disney Orlando has invited USCHS to perform at Disney World April 24-28, 2014.

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