A flutist for ‘The Lion King’ brings people together with music

Oct 13, 2022, 9:50 PM | Updated: Oct 14, 2022, 1:55 pm

The Lion King still reigns supreme when it comes to popular Broadway shows, and the touring company is on a monthlong stay at the Eccles Theatre in downtown Salt Lake City.

Arts Specialist Carole Mikita takes us behind the scenes with one of the show’s great musicians. From the first scene of the production — it’s dynamic — with the characters, costumes, sets and music, “The Lion King’s” feast for the senses includes remarkably talented artists on and off the stage.

Darlene Drew creates her magical sounds in the orchestra pit. She is the company’s flutist. As we stood in front of her array of instruments, I pointed to a very colorful piece.

“Tell me about this one.”

“This is a four-octave pan flute that was made in Romania, made from maple wood. I can toot it to whatever key I’m playing in the show. So, this starts out ‘The Circle of Life,'” Drew said.

Maybe what’s most amazing is the fact that she plays 13 flutes! As she points to each group, she described the international flavor of her music.

“Here I’m representing India, Ireland and China with my collection. Each of those flutes has a place and a character or a dramatic moment in the show.”

Each character in this show has a different personality and a different sound.

From the charming, “I like to call this my little Simba flute.” The sound is light and playful.

To the sinister, “This is the scary Scar part.” This flute brings menacing sounds.

Does she have a favorite, I wondered? And she admitted, yes. Then she played “Shadowland,” Nala’s song.

This show transports audiences, she says, because they leave the theatre renewed.

“We’ve had a lot of stories of healing from audience members that have been to the show and it’s changed their life,” she said.

For 19 years, Darlene Drew has been one of a company bringing together “the circle of life.”

“It’s wonderful,” she said. “I can feel it down in the pit, feel the energy.”

The Lion King performances continue at the Eccles Theatre in downtown Salt Lake City through Oct. 23. Tickets are available at this website.

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A flutist for ‘The Lion King’ brings people together with music