The free show is a family musical with both comedic and tragic aspects to it
Published in the February 17 – March 1, 2016 issue of Morgan Hill Life
By Marty Cheek
Take a trip to the Pride Lands of Africa with an upcoming performance of “The Lion King, Jr.” by students of Oakwood School. Shows are free and will be held at the Oakwood gym 7 p.m. Thursday Feb. 25 and Friday Feb. 26.
The story follows the adventures of Simba, a lion cub born to King Mufasa and Queen Sarabi. Their son creates envy and resentment in Mufasa’s younger brother, Scar, who realizes his nephew is heir to the throne.
Eighth-grader Lucy Kaelin plays “Rafiki,” the mystical monkey in the Oakwood performance of the stage show which is based on the 1994 animated Walt Disney film.
“The Lion King is kind of my dream musical to be in and Rafiki is sort of my dream role, so it’s very exciting,” she said. “I went to see it in San Francisco. It was mindblowing. And my dad always calls me a monkey, so it kind of fits me. Rafiki, for lack of a better word, is a witch doctor. She’s kind of a mandrill healer person from South Africa.”
“I’m the king’s right hand man, basically. I do all the errands and stuff,” she said. “My character is really uptight, a little OCD, so everything has to be perfect or else he’ll go berserk. He’s very overprotective.”
The show is a musical with comedy and tragedy, she said.
“Simba runs off because he doesn’t want to be blamed for his father’s death,” Jensen said. “And he makes two new friends, Timon and Pumbaa, who teach him life lessons as well. And he defeats his uncle at the end – with a love plot in the middle of all of it.”
One of the most impressive aspects of the show is the costumes and the masks worn by the performers to represent various inhabitants of the African animal kingdom, she said.
“They’re all natural materials. There’s nothing sparkly or glittery. We use earthy colors and tones,” said Angele Carter, costume designer for the show. Students Carolyn Burback, Maddy Hagen, Grace Kawwas, Taylore Martinez, Annie Rickard and Clairey Yang in her costume design class did much of the sewing to produce the elaborate garments. The stage manager is Oakwood senior Maggie Burback. Nikhita Gopisetty is the lighting technician and Crystal Li is the sound engineer.
“The dance teacher and the drama teacher were collecting fabric all through the summer and getting their ideas for what they wanted,” Carter said. “I was new to the school in the second trimester so we’ve been working on them since then. Sue McClure did all the masks.”
Kathy Abbey co-directed the show with Jyovonne Montosa. She said the minute she and Montosa found out the rights to perform The Lion King were available, they got excited.
“We just both love the show. We grew up watching the show a lot,” Abbey said. “The kids love it. As you can see from the enthusiasm of their singing, they didn’t hesitate from the moment we announced it, they just jumped on board with this. The whole family feel that you get with it. Disney puts together a great package when you order their scripting and their music, it makes it so easy at the middle school level to do a production.”
A big part of the performance will be the massive procession of puppet animals including two zebras, an elephant and a giraffe, she said.
“It is open to everyone and it is free. We don’t have a charge for it at all,” Abbey said. “Families and everybody are welcome. This is a family show so we encourage people with small children to come. It’s going to be very visual, so young children will love this. They will be spellbound and sit quietly and watch.”
The cast consists of:
Lucy Kaelin as Rafiki, Giselle MacNaughton as Mufasa, Jayla Forman as Sarabi, Carly Jensen as Zazu, Julia Millward as Scar, Chloe Borsody as Sarafina, Lili Jaquet as Shenzi, Zoe Chamberlain as Banzai, Alicia Pali as Ed, Hope Miller as Timon, Samantha Albin as Pumbaa, Remington Moyer as Simba, Micah Konold as Nala, Melodie Knappe and Anna Maggiolo as lionesses, Sophia Weissinger and Avery Yakich as hyenas, Jacqueline Anthus, Sara Galvis, Kaya Jones, Sophia Johnson and Virginia Miller as tribal dancers.