June 15, 2003 – For Virgin Islanders who have felt a pounding in their heart at the thought of seeking fame and glory on the Broadway stage but haven't hazarded the trip north to the Great White Way just yet, there is a new reason to dream: For the first time that Reichhold Center for the Arts director David Edgecombe can remember, and probably for the first time ever, Broadway is coming to the Virgin Islands.
From June 30 to July 2, Disney Theatrical Productions will be holding open auditions for singers and dancers at the Reichhold Center, looking to cast parts in the Broadway and national touring company casts of the smash hit, Tony Award-winning musical "The Lion King."
"The Lion King" (music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice, and book by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi) is based on Disney's famed 1994 animated feature film of the same title. It tells the story of Simba, a lion cub who is tricked by his evil uncle, Scar, into thinking he has killed his father, Mufasa, the ruler of the pride. Guilt-ridden and heart-broken, Simba flees into exile and abandons his identity as the future king, only to win his way back to the crown with the help of his friends Pumbaa, Timon and Nala.
So, if you think you have the stuff to sing Simba, the muscles to make it as Mufasa, or the temerity to tackle Timon, warm up your vocal chords, strap on your dancing shoes and head to John Brewers Bay — because Broadway, it seems, is willing to meet you more than halfway.
"We've been trying to get the word out about these auditions to as many people as possible," Edgecombe said. "We would like to provide Disney with enough talented people so that they stay interested in the Virgin Islands, not only for 'The Lion King' casting, but for all of their productions." And if last month's STARfest9 production is any indication, the possibility for a lasting relationship with Disney is definitely there.
The idea to hold a casting call in the territory was first presented to Tourism Commissioner Pamela Richards through the Tourism office in New York. Richards thought the idea was interesting and passed it along to Edgecombe, who made the arrangements with Disney.
According to Reichhold marketing director Rick Le Burkien, the territory is a natural place for a production like "The Lion King" to go looking for fresh faces, because "we have an extraordinary amount of talent in the region, and a rich cultural history of dance and song."
Disney is looking for singers and dancers ages 18 to 35 from all cultural backgrounds to fill principal and ensemble roles. Candidates will need to have strong rock/pop voices, sex appeal and charm, according to a release.
The auditions are being conducted by Binder Casting on the stage of the Reichhold Center on the University of the Virgin Islands St. Thomas campus. All auditioners are asked to bring a recent headshot and resume, stapled back to back.
Sign-in for singers will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 30, with auditions set to begin at 10 a.m. Singers should prepare 16 bars of a song that shows off their voice and range and should bring their own sheet music. A pianist will be provided at the audition.
Female dancers will audition on July 1. Sign-in begins at 9 a.m. and dancers should be warmed up and ready to dance by 10 a.m. Male dancers will sign in starting at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, July 1 and should be ready to dance by 2 p.m. Some male dancers in the show are required to have strong acrobatic skills, so tumblers, be ready. Dancers also may be asked to sing at the audition and should prepare 16 bars and bring sheet music.
Call-backs for both singers and dancers will be held on July 2.
Anyone unable to attend these auditions who would like to be considered should send their picture and resume immediately to: Attention: Lion King, Binder Casting, 321 West 44th Street, Suite 606, New York NY 10036. For further information, call the Reichhold Center at 693-1553 or visit the Lion King Web site.
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