Bluefield University Theatre Department and Bluefield Youth Theatre will present Disney’s “The Lion King, Jr.” a version of the award-winning Broadway musical for youth April 25-28 in Harman Auditorium on the Bluefield University Campus. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night with a 3:00 p.m. matinee on Sunday, April 28. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for non-BU students and senior adults. Bluefield University students, staff, and faculty are free.
Based on Disney’s 1994 animated classic “The Lion King” and the 1997 Broadway adaptation of the musical conceived and directed by Julie Taymor, “The Lion King, Jr.” features music by Elton John and Tim Rice with additional music by Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Julie Taymor, and Hans Zimmer. Songs include such audience favorites as “Circle of Life,” “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King,” “Hakuna Matata,” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”
The play tells the story of young Prince Simba, the male lion cub of King Mufasa and Sarabi. Mufasa must teach Simba what it means to be a king and to be part of the great circle of life. But there is someone else who covets Mufasa’s throne and resents Simba’s presence—Mufasa’s twisted brother Scar. Partnering with the hyenas, Scar arranges the death of his brother and the exile of young Simba. With Mufasa gone, two unlikely surrogates step in to teach Simba about life—a cagey meercat named Timon and a gaseous warthog named Pumbaa. Together these unlikely guardians teach the young cub their carefree philosophy, Hakuna Matata (No Worries). But the winds of change are blowing. Scar and his scavenging minions are destroying the Pride Lands with overhunting and abuse. Young Nala sets out to find Simba and bring him home. With the help of Timon and Pumbaa, Simba and Nala overthrow Scar and drive the Hyenas out of the Pride Lands. The balance is restored, and the circle of life goes on.
“The Lion King Jr.” features 45 children, ranging from 6 to 18 years of age from throughout the two Virginias. Young Simba is played by Elias Stout, while the older Simba is played by Noah Munique. Young Nala is played by Kate Sheetz with the older Nala played by Sarah Jacobs. Mufasa and Sarabi are played by Luke Safewright and Hannah Minnix. The king’s brother Scar is played by Brian Fisher. Zazu, the hornbill who serves as the king’s steward, is played by Connor Miller while Rafiki, the wise baboon is played by Diana Moir. Timon and Pumbaa are played by Adyn Daniels and Owen Cagle. Banzai, Shenzi, and Ed, the ne’er-do-well hyena henchmen of the evil Scar are played by Aiden Stout, Rachel White, and Zach Bowman. Other members of the cast include Blair Anderson, Lilly Auton, Amanuel Bailey, Tobias Bailey, Xavier Ball, Madison Barnes, Morgan Barnes, Gavin Bolton, Chloe Bowers, Aurora Crews, Santana Day, Calvin Dowell, Elise Jacobs, Eshaal Khan, Alexis Leedy, Riley Lingenfelter, Miles Munique, Joselyn Pruitt, Christian Reed, Keyamoni Reed, Evan Rice, Parker Sheets, Cannon Smith, Finn Smith, Darian Spalding, Jack Turner, Kimberly Turner, Callie Wilkinson, and Ellie Williams. The play is directed by BU theatre faculty Charles M. Reese and Rebecca McCoy-Reese with choreography by Ashley Burton and music direction by Alexandra Stout.
“The Lion King, Jr. is going to be a beautiful show,” said Reese, “featuring lavish animal costumes, masks, and puppets as well as lots of beautiful music. It is without question the most challenging production we have ever mounted at Bluefield University. The community does not want to miss this exciting production.”
“The Lion King, Jr.” opens April 25 and runs through April 28. In addition to public performances, there are three scheduled matinees for local school children. For ticket information contact Bluefield University Theatre at 276-326-4244 or 4213.