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Wednesday, October 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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‘Lion King’ performers take the stage at downtown Spokane bar to raise money for AIDS awareness

UPDATED: Tue., Jan. 29, 2019

In yet another sold-out show, cast members of “The Lion King” enthralled an all-ages crowd Monday night in Spokane.

And they weren’t even in costume.

“The Lion Sings Tonight” was a benefit concert for the Spokane AIDS Network and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, two nonprofits that work to raise awareness about the disease and ways to prevent its spread.

Actors and musicians from the Disney production, which is in the middle of a two-week, 16-show run at the First Interstate Center for the Arts, performed a selection of their favorite songs and dances at nYne Bistro & Bar on Sprague Avenue.

While attendees sipped “Lion King”-inspired drinks like Pumbaa Punch and Rafiki-tinis, the performance material was strictly unrelated to the play, which is copyrighted.

Grant Ogren, board president of the Spokane AIDS Network, described the show as a cabaret event. He said the organization previously hosted similar fundraisers with the casts of “Wicked” and “The Book of Mormon.”

Jesse Tinsley

Trading in his costume of the lion cub Simba, the young actor Walter Russell opened the show by singing along with a piano number titled “Flyin’ Milk.” Brandon McCall followed that with a stunning vocal performance, while Jane King and Sean Carmon performed a choreographed modern dance.

More than a dozen songs brought around 20 “Lion King” performers to the stage, giving attendees a chance to see them for a fraction of the price of play tickets.

Ogren said the show had sold out hours earlier and ticket sales alone had generated about $3,500 for the two AIDS organizations. There was also a live auction for two “Lion King” tickets and one of the silk bird kites featured in the play, as well a stream of donations from concert attendees.

Employees at nYne handled all of the setup for Monday’s event. Ogren said the proceeds would fund AIDS education and outreach programs.

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