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PostHeaderIcon Lion King roars into Durham Performing Arts Center January 04, 2011

Lion King is coming to the Durham Performing Arts Center tonight. The Tony Award-winning Broadway musical The Lion King returns to Durham NC at 7:30 tonight and continues through January 30, 2011.

Lion King roars into Durham Performing Arts Center

Lion King roars into Durham Performing Arts Center

The Lion King is in its 13th year and has toured around the world, including Asia. Its broad appeal and longevity come from its classic story of personal growth and family strife, along with its diverse batch of dance styles, said Garth Fagan, who created the original choreography for the show.

Much of the show’s draw is its unconventional use of puppets and masks. The props are so seamlessly integrated with the actors, it’s easy to forget there are people behind them.

Tony Freeman plays the role of the hornbill Zazu, the lion Mufasa’s snooty aide. Freeman becomes the bird through a puppet extended on his arm, which he controls through three strings and a Slinky in Zazu’s neck. He has been playing the role for more than six years on Broadway and with the touring company.

The Lion King is expected to draw more than 75,000 people, as did “Wicked” and “Billy Elliot,” said Rachel Gragg, director of public relations for Durham Performing Arts Center. The center is counting on more than 40 percent of the audiences to come from Wake County.

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