ARIZONA CHILDREN’S THEATRE (ACT)
Review of Lion King, Jr.
By Penny Peterson
Before anything else, let me congratulate Lynn Rouyer and her staff for their 100% adherence to the state covid-19 standards. Everyone involved had their temperature taken every day before rehearsals began. All rehearsals and performances were outside. Audiences brought their own lawn chairs, and there was plenty of room to spread out. The technical staff did a wonderful job on sound and microphones in spite of rather strong winds. But they did it all and created a good show.
There were a total of 26 young actors ranging in age from 7 to19. Some of the more experienced actors doubled as JR STAFF: Elliot Hull, Makenna Jones, Mattie Mitchell and Houston Hull.
The cast of 17 main characters were as follows: Rafiki-Lily Lambertson, Mufasa-Elliot Hull, Sarabi-Bri Smith, Scar-Sami Allison, Zazu-Lian Mitchell, Young Simba-Zane Jones, Simba-Houston Hull, Banzai-Mattie Mitchell, Shenzie-Ava Cone, Ziada-Elly Webster, Ed-Ryann Cone, Young Nala-Ava Hull, Nala-Makenna Jones, Sarafina-Addilyn Sorensen, Timon-Halie Greene and Pumbaa-Emily Hull. Others became Hyenas (9), Lionesses (8) and Wildebeests (10).
There were costume changes galore with kids alternating sometimes between three characters. And they pulled it off. Cheers to the costume crew and Producer Margy Simchak for keeping it all under control.
Lily Lambertson took my breath away as Rafiki. What a voice. And she’s only 15. Elliot Hull as King Mufasa had just the right mix of comforting father and disciplinarian. Houston Hull as Simba had a compelling change of emotions from rebellious son to guilt ridden adult, to a true leader. Makenna Jones did the delicate job of friend, guidance counselor and teacher perfectly.
All the young actors did a fine job under very difficult circumstances. And I never saw one of those moments we all dread when there’s a big pause because someone dropped a line.
Asking a crew to create a jungle in the back lot of a church so that 26 kids could perform is like saying “Perform a miracle.” They did. And I believe they all enjoyed the experience. I enjoyed the experience. Everyone in Munds Park should cheer those who made this happen.
The sponsoring organization was Coconino Community Theatre. And the donation of the rehearsal space and performance area by Munds Park Community Church made the production possible.