MANHATTAN (PIX11) — “The Lion King” roared onto Broadway 25 years ago, filling original cast members and fans with pride as they celebrated the occasion on Sunday.

They flocked to see the groundbreaking musical on its silver anniversary Sunday. They sang an impromptu version of the popular song from the show, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” in the Minskoff Theatre lobby as they waited to see an invitation-only 3 p.m. matinee.

There have been more than 9,000 performances since opening night on Nov. 13, 1997.

“It’s just special to be part of something that has been sustained for so long,” Endalyn Taylor Outlaw, an original cast member, told PIX11 News.

Original cast member Christine Yasunaga also felt the love.

“We’re so lucky to have had this show so much love, memories, laughter and pain,” Yasunaga said.

Original cast member Stanley W. Mathis noted it wasn’t just the story and songs that have made “The Lion King” important.

“The fact that it was a female director on Broadway and a Black choreographer,, the entire diaspora was represented on that stage,” he said.

“The Lion King” uses intricate costumes and innovative magical set design to depict South Africa’s pride lands with animals including giraffes hyenas elephants and zebras.

It tells the story of lion cub Simba going on a journey of self discovery to take his place as king.

For 11-year-old Corey J, who played Simba for several months last year, it was life changing.

“It was fun. There is just no words,” Corey J, who played in 2021, told PIX11 News. “It was one of the best experiences. Saying it was my first show on Broadway it’s just very very cool”

Corey J. is currently playing the young Michael Jackson in “MJ, the Musical.”

The “Lion King” matinee on Sunday was by invitation only. It was intended for previous cast members, behind-the-scenes creatives and a few diehard enthusiasts who’ve seen the show over and over again, like Lorcan Cameron.

“It’s like a rollercoaster,”  Cameron, a super fan, told PIX11 News.

When original cast member Endalyn Taylor Outlaw was asked if she felt the love on this 25th anniversary, she replied: “I absolutely can and I can feel the joy.”