Columbia engages 127 students in ‘The Lion King Jr.’

MADISON – Columbia Drama Club will interpret a contemporary classic of the Broadway stage and Hollywood films in their production of “The Lion King Jr.” on Feb. 7-8.

“The Lion King Jr.” is set in the wild savannah and jungles of Africa. Pride Lands animals have gathered for the announcement of Simba’s birth.

Simba’s young life is unhappy because of his Uncle Scar. However, Simba gains some true friends who help him when he needs it most. Simba learns to look introspectively to see his real strength.

“The show is a musical, like the movie,” producer Katie Chatam said. “The play is very similar to the movie but also has ties to the Broadway musical, with familiar songs like ‘Circle of Life’ and ‘I Just Can’t Wait to Be King.’” Some songs aren’t in the movie, like “Shadowland.”

From grades 2-5, the cast totals 127 students.

“Our student actors have been incredibly patient and hardworking. ‘The Lion King Jr.’ has been one of the most challenging plays that Columbia has ever put on,” Chatam said.

Directors Hannah Taylor and Stephanie Thompson are collaborating with choreographer Alison Carvalho; music directors Mallory Nuzman and Lauren Larsen; chorus manager Amanda Kuepker; teacher sponsor Casey Gaines; sound technician Al Gilbert; and technical crew members from Bob Jones.

“Music has played a very big role in this play. We’ve been incredibly lucky to have our music directors; the music is some of the most challenging we’ve (with) some African chants,” Chatam said.

“Costumes have been a huge undertaking (with) lots of hours and volunteers, including our seamstress Neisha Magonigal,” Chatam said. “Overall, we’ve made all costumes from scratch.”

For five months, all students in cast and chorus have applied themselves for one of Columbia’s most challenging musicals. “From the sets and costumes, to the music and characters so many people are familiar with, the show has something for everyone, and everyone will enjoy seeing it,” Chatam said.

“We truly love having the opportunity to perform for the community. We could not continue to run Columbia Drama Club without the community’s support,” she said.

Show dates are Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 8 at 2 and 7 p.m. in Zompa Auditorium at Bob Jones High School. Tickets are $7. Children younger than three years will be admitted free.

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