I had the pleasure of attending the final performance of “The Lion King Jr”, directed by Bruce Moore and performed by a terrific cast of local children of various ages at the Gettysburg Community Theater in Historic Downtown Gettysburg. While I have been to performances at Gettysburg Community Theater before, this is the first time I have attended one of the shows that involved only children. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I did not leave disappointed.
The set for this performance was designed in such a way that it included a digital background component to help set the mood and background for each scene. While the stage was prepped with minor elements for this particular play, there was no need for extensive props to place the audience in the wilds of Africa for the performance.
We all know the story behind the Lion King. I, myself, was 14 when the original came out by Disney, and it’s a fantastic story about maturity, diving into responsibility, heartache and coming into our own. A pretty good plot for a cast of children to display with the innocence and humor that only they can portray.
When Artistic Director, Chad-Alan Carr came out at the start of the show, he spoke about the good things the theater is doing this year. Some of these included the theater’s pinnacle Penguin Project that provides artistic outlets for special needs children, the quality of their programming compared to other theaters up and down the Mid-Atlantic, and its request for sponsorships. I also learned that 60% of the yearly expense of the theater is covered by ticket sales, but the remaining 40% relies on sponsorships and fundraising. He outlined the cost to license the play from Disney, to rent the costumes, and the general expense that obviously comes with each performance.
As patrons come and go from performances and then patronize local restaurants and other facilities, it’s encouraged to mention that we had just attended a performance and that they are always looking for additional sponsors to help keep the theater going strong. In fact, Gettysburg Wire itself will now be sending in sponsorship on a regular basis to help contribute to the arts and all the heart and soul the staff, board, and cast put into these performances.
Back to this evenings play, we’re greeted by Aidan Higgins who plays Rafiki, the lovable, goofy and wise baboon who provides the necessary guidance for Simba throughout the story. Aidan takes this a step further as she clearly provided support and guidance to some of the very young cast as well to keep the performance going smoothly. Her compassion and love for what she does were very visible and impressive as she took on the additional role of mentor.
Caden Miller filled the role of young Simba, and clearly embraced the role with the necessary humor and defiant adolescence that Simba needed. He brought one of my favorite performances of the evening.
Two sisters took on the roles of Timone (played by Emma Kirk) and Pumbaa (played by Maria Kirk) and the chemistry between them both was absolutely perfect and led us to believe that they had (quite literally) been best friends for years, as the roles required. Because of their existing bond, they were able to shine on stage as our two humorous friends and comrades of Simba as he grew to take on the role of King.
Ben Incaprera depicted our evil rival, the nefarious Scar and his bold temperament and gallant singing voice really gave us the dreadful suspense that of course, he was up to no good 🙂
Speaking of singing voices, I can’t forget Savannah Schneider who played our adult Nala and her voice that wowed the audience.
There were so many good performances, and I don’t know who did the flip on stage, but you go girl. The harmonies, the singing, the fun, the achievement of all of these kids with only 2 weeks time to rehearse is simply impressive.
What Chad, the Staff and the Board of Gettysburg Community Theater do and provide throughout the entire year is something to be treasured. Supporting the arts in our community is important, and providing these opportunities not only for our children but for the community to really know what goes into it and what it’s like to enjoy live theater is something we as a community should feel blessed to have in our back yard.
If you have not attended a performance there yet, consider purchasing your ticket today at www.gettysburgcommunitytheatre.org
Great job, everyone. I can’t wait to see you in December for Frozen Jr!