November 30, 2023

ABOVE PHOTO: Jeremy Noel  (Sub/City Images)

By Kharisma McIlwaine

In 1994, Disney launched the animated movie “The Lion King” which turned an on the spot traditional. The unforgettable characters and unbelievable soundtrack proceed to seize hearts and usher in new followers nearly 30 years later. 

The musical adaptation of “The Lion King” premiered on Broadway on November 13, 1997. Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions, beneath the route of Thomas Schumacher, the six-time Tony and Grammy Award successful musical is the third longest-running present in Broadway historical past. 

Tri-state space theater goers have been eagerly awaiting its return. 

Now the wait is formally over, and the North American tour of “The Lion King” returning to Philadelphia for a four-week engagement on The Kimmel Cultural Campus. Jeremy Noel, born in Philadelphia and raised in Bucks County, stars within the North American tour as an ensemble forged member and the understudy for Simba. Noel spoke with the SUN about his gratitude and pleasure for being part of this legendary present and forged.

Impressed by his older brother, Noel discovered his love for musical theater as an viewers member at his very first musical manufacturing.

“My first manufacturing of a musical I ever noticed was a highschool manufacturing of Peter Pan,” Noel stated. “My brother was in it. The sensation that I felt after I was in that viewers… I stated I wish to make different individuals really feel the best way I simply felt. Ever since, I’ve been going by way of my journey attending to “The Lion King”.”

After his brother’s efficiency, Noel shortly made the transition from band to a pursuit of musical theater.

“I used to be a band child earlier than musical theater — piano, drums, percussion and the violin,” he stated. “It was type of a loopy change over… I didn’t even sing earlier than. However then, I stated I type of have to choose one if I’m going to do it. So, I switched my full focus over to singing. Performing got here with the exhibits that I carried out in after which dancing type of got here in with that too.” 

Noel went on to attend and graduate from Ithaca School. Whereas attending Ithaca, he obtained the decision for the life altering audition. 

Firm of “The Lion King” on Broadway (Picture by Matthew Murphy-Disney)

“I used to be in Ithaca after I obtained “The Lion King” audition,” he stated. “I used to be touring again dwelling, going to town. I went from Ithaca and auditioned in New York and by no means moved out as a result of I went proper on the highway. It was loopy! Once I say I used to be a Disney child, I might stroll round the home being Simba. Once I obtained to highschool, we had been doing Profession Day and I stated, ‘What’s the present that I might like to be in?’ I stated, ‘Lion King. Having the ability to play Simba, I might love to try this. Seven or eight years later, now I’m really doing that!”

Noel’s expertise touring in his first skilled present has been nothing in need of superb. 

“As a result of it’s the touring firm, I’m tackling being in my first skilled present whereas additionally touring,” he stated. “I’ve lived in a number of completely different locations so I type of have two completely different experiences melted into one. Truthfully, it’s nice! I by no means thought I might see so many states in two years. I’ve been to 12 states I’ve by no means been to in my life and I get to carry out “The Lion King!” 

Performing with the present’s forged , not solely gave Noel a chance to journey, but it surely additionally gifted him the chance to broaden and develop as a performer. 

“Generally while you get in a room, the ‘Oh my gosh, I don’t know if I’m imagined to be right here’ factor kicks in,” he stated. “Then when you’re really doing the work, you acquire a lot confidence and also you’re, like, in fact that is why I’m right here. That comfortability — I’m very grateful for. I really feel like that’s additionally the place I’ve simply grown. I preserve getting comfy and I get to attempt new issues. Once I get to go on as Simba, I can actually be in “The Lion King” as this character. The journey has been nice thus far!”

Taking up the mantle of an ensemble forged member and the understudy for Simba has been an absolute dream come true for Noel. 

 “It’s been exhilarating… I really like doing my observe! I get to go down the aisle because the elephant, and it’s really considered one of my favourite components of the present,” Noel stated. “I can see all of the faces of everybody within the viewers because the elephant comes down the aisle. The sensation that I get from seeing pleasure on individuals’s faces is completely priceless!”

“Attending to be an precise character inside “The Lion King” and having or not it’s Simba is superb,” Noel added. “I’m telling you, I walked round the home getting my shoulders prepared, and actually moving into who Simba may very well be. So, after I really do it, I really feel so comfy now and nonetheless exhilarating and thrilling. I imply “Lion King” is a spectacle and each time I do it, I really feel one thing completely different, but it surely’s all pure pleasure.”

“The Lion King” musical is thought for its dynamic rating that includes songs by Elton John and Tim Rice from the unique animated movie. The songs nonetheless present a heartwarming expertise for the viewers and forged alike.  

 “Once I heard the very first refrain of “Circle of Life” throughout my first efficiency — I’ll always remember that feeling,” Noel stated. “The Circle of Life” is among the most iconic songs, so simply being in that and looking out round at everybody else on the stage — it’s pleasure and pleasure. The flashbacks of watching “The Lion King” as a child… all the things melted collectively in that one second and I can by no means recreate that.”

Noel additionally spoke about his love for a track within the present referred to as “The Lioness Hunt.”

“Through the track the lionesses are doing a dance for looking and the blokes sing with the ladies. Each single evening that I sing that track, I really feel this robust, highly effective power and everybody round singing with us simply feels so empowering. I additionally love the vocal association of that track.”

In a real full circle second, Noel returns to his second dwelling, Philadelphia, to carry out for the very first time in “The Lion King.”

“I did the primary vocal jazz camp at The Kimmel Middle ,and I by no means thought that I might be again this quickly performing something, however particularly “The Lion King.” My church, New Covenant Church of Philadelphia, there’s 140 individuals coming to see me,” he stated. “The assist and pleasure I really feel is unmatched!”

To assist Jeremy Noel on his journey, you should definitely comply with him on IG @jeremynoel13 and go to his web site at: Disney’s “The Lion King” will probably be at The Academy of Music on The Kimmel Cultural Campus August 16 by way of September 10. Go to: for extra particulars on tickets and showtimes.