Just Can’t Wait to be King! Disney’s The Lion King Jr. on stage March 15 at St. Augustine Amphitheatre

Disney’s The Lion King Jr. on stage
February 22, 2016

From R.J. Murray Middle School

Join in the Circle of Life with Simba, Nala, Timone, Pumba, and other popular characters from Disney’s The Lion King Jr., on stage at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 15 at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre, 1340A A1A South, St. Augustine.

More than 150 students from the St. Johns County Center for the Arts at Murray Middle School will be part of the show — as dancers, characters in the musical, and the chorus.

New York City singer and actor Gregory Sheppard will play Mufasa, the king of Pride Rock. Sheppard has performed operatic roles and made singing appearances with symphony orchestras and chamber ensembles in the United States and Europe, including the New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera, Philadelphia Opera, the Savonlinna Opera (Finland), Vienne Festival (Austria), and many others. In addition, he has performed with the Bowdoin Music Festival as soloist in Mozart's Requiem Mass; as guest artist at the Arts Festival in Fort-de-France, Martinique; as soloist in the premier and live recording of Perfect Harmony by Finnish composer Heikki Sarmanto at the Savonlinna Festival; as Balthazar in Amahl and the Night Visitors for the Berkshire Winter Festival; as Herald in Cinderella at the North Shore Music Festival; and Gianni Schicch in a live MET performance for the Metropolitan Opera Education Department.

The show is directed by drama instructor JoAnn Kirby Nance, with music direction by choral instructor Frank Schmidt. Dance instructors Carole Dickens and Catie Burkhardt are the choreographers.

“Choreographing for musicals is very different than creating works for a dance concert. I always have to take into consideration where the actors will be and the singers, and location of set and scenery. I think that Catie is doing the most challenging pieces — the hyenas and lionesses!” Carole Dickens said.

“Catie and I are both choreographing ‘Just Can't Wait to be King’ in classic Disney style. Everyone is familiar with the song and I'm sure the crowd will love it,” Dickens said.

Morgan Kelly, who has a background in Educational Theatre and Puppetry, is working to create the enormous elephants, giraffes, and other animals on stage in the show. 

She’s designing and building the big elephant, a baby elephant and the birds in the show, including the narrator, Zazu.

“I am not aiming to mimic the Broadway musical, but rather being inspired by it,” Kelly explained. “Puppets are magical. They add a very special imaginative element to any show. People of all ages respond to puppets using their imagination.”

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students/children, available in advance online at www.ShowTix4U.com. Tickets also will be available at the door one hour prior to the performance. The St. Augustine Amphitheatre seats nearly 4,000.

Music and Lyrics by Elton John and Tim Rice. Additional Music and Lyrics by Lebo M and Mark Mancina and Jay Rifkin and Will Van Dyke. Book by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi. Based on the Broadway production directed by Julie Taymor. Disney’s The Lion King, Jr. is presented through special arrangements with Music Theatre International.

IF YOU GO

                        7 p.m. March 15

                        St. Augustine Amphitheatre, 1340 SR-A1A S

                        St Augustine

                        Tickets: $10 for adults, $5 for students/children

                        Buy tickets: www.ShowTix4U.com

                        Tickets also can be purchased at the door on the day of the show.

CAST

                        BANZAI … BAYLIE McCLAFFERTY  

                        ED … ALEX MOWREY

                        NALA … SHAYLA NELSON

                        PUMBAA … KYLE WORRELL

                        RAFIKI … NIYA BROWN

                        SARABI … ELLA ROMAINE

                        SARAFINA … KATARINA KNIPPENBERG

                        SCAR … ALEX LAWLESS

                        SHENZI … DAIDREUNNA DONALDSON

                        SIMBA … ETHAN VENZON

                        TIMON … ISSAC TURNER

                        YOUNG NALA … KYLER UNSWORTH

                        YOUNG SIMBA … CONNOR MICKEY

                        ZAZU … MACY DYKES

          MUFASA … SPECIAL GUEST ARTIST –  GREGORY SHEPPARD