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CrazyFruits » African/Caribbean/UK/GeneralDiscussions » Jamaican dancer Benton Morris (centre) with castmates in the London production of hit musical

Jamaican dancer Benton Morris (centre) with castmates in the London production of hit musical

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THE third time proved to be the charm for Jamaican dancer Benton Morris, who is part of the London cast of hit musical The Lion King.
It was audition number three for the show which debuted in 1997, that proved the clincher for the St Catherine-born Morris.
He had first auditioned in 2010, then two years later in 2012. On both occasions, he made it to the final round, ending up in the top four male dancers each time. But he failed to make it to the cast of the stage as he was told he did not fit the specific role the producers were looking for.
The Lion King team returned to Jamaica in 2013 and Morris was less than enthusiastic about trying out for a third time, but he did after encouragement from peers.
"The 2013 audition wasn't as exciting as the previous two I attempted. I was not nervous and I wasn't expecting anything; I was going to just dance and have fun with it," Morris told the Sunday Observer.
The audition is divided into two parts -- dancing and singing. The dance portion was divided into three parts: a modern combination, after which the dancers with the best technique are chosen; following that, a routine from the show is taught to see which of the dancers have the ability to work with strict choreography. After the second cut, The Lion King's dance supervisor teaches a ballet sequence.
"After successfully passing everything, it's back to the waiting game of getting cast. Here I was, at the final cut, with nine other outstanding male dancers, all waiting and hoping to be chosen," he recalled.
The wait would be over on All Fool's Day -- April 1. Morris received an e-mail advising him that he had been cast in the London production.
"I was in shock, but I was also a bit sceptical of its authenticity as it was April 1st. I immediately called my mom, grandmother, and Michael Holgate. They were the only people who knew until my opening night almost four months later."
He would then be flung headlong into a rehearsal schedule unlike anything he knew as a student at the Edna Manley College's School of Dance or as a dancer with the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC).
For six weeks -- six days a week, nine hours a day -- Morris and his castmates refined their technique and were taught the entire show from scratch in preparation for opening night on July 19.
"I'll never forget, that special, touching, and indescribable feeling of being a part of the opening, starting with the famous Circle of Life. I was shaking from all the adrenaline rushing through my body, and the excitement stayed with me for several weeks."
Morris follows in the footsteps of a number of other NDTC members who have performed in this iconic production including Tovah Bembrigde, Kerry Ann Henry and Candice Morris.

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