“The Lion King Jr.” is coming to West Tisbury this weekend. The middle school production follows the well-known story from the 1994 Disney film. Simba (played by River Maxner and Grady Stalgren) is a young and curious lion whose father is King of the Pride Lands. When the king is murdered, his uncle, the murderer, tricks young Simba into thinking that he is responsible for his father’s death. Simba flees into exile and grows up in the company of carefree outcasts, while his uncle reigns — and not well. One day Simba’s childhood friend, Nala, and his shaman, Rafiki, come to help him remember his father. With newfound courage, Simba returns to take his rightful place in the Circle of Life.
The production is adapted from the Broadway musical, with local choreography by Jen Maxner (whose daughters Josie and Talulah are in the show) and music led by West Tisbury School teacher Alexis MacTaylor. Students have been rehearsing since January and have learned some challenging music for the show’s big musical numbers. Last weekend, they painted sets and costumes, representing the many animals of the savanna: zebras, wildebeests, leopards, and of course lions. Other costumes were assembled and made from what people had in their closets, things from the thrift shop, and a handful of purchased items. All in all, the effect is impressive.
The teachers and parents involved in the production are confident that it’s going to be a great show. At rehearsal last week, they worked on some tricky parts in the music. “This is the fifth middle school show I’ve done and you are in the best shape going into tech week,” Barbara Binder, the director, told the cast.
“The Lion King Jr.” will be on stage at the West Tisbury School on Friday, March 13, at 7 pm, Saturday, March 14, at 7 pm, and Sunday, March 15, at 2 pm. The show is about one hour long, tickets are $5 each or $20 for families of four or more.