Middle school students bring 'The Lion King Jr.' to life

Apr 7, 2018

No one’s too old to sing out loud to Hakuna Matata and other tunes from the Disney classic as the audience at Dartmouth Middle School's showing of The Lion King, Jr. learned.

Opening night for the show was April 5, and ended a months-long process for the 45 theater students of piecing together sets, learning lines, and rehearsing. Students had to learn African languages and songs, dance moves, and swap between 74 costumes throughout the show.

Director Richard Blair settled on the musical version of The Lion King Jr. after a friend suggested it. The lengthy cast list offered parts for every student, Blair explained.

“We were very fortunate this year because you never know who is going to show up,” Blair said. “This cast is just exceptional.”

Logistics, however, was a challenge.

“Trying to get that all ready for dress rehearsal — we were all like ‘Did we jump in to deep?’ but it all came together,” Blair said.

Rehearsals were also cancelled after last month’s wave of Nor’easters, necessitating late weekday and Saturday scheduling.

Ronan Baker portrayed the infamous Scar. Seeing it all come together has been amazing, he said.

“I’ve been really excited to be in this,” Baker said. “My friends and family have been pushing me to do drama and now that I’m actually doing it I feel pretty confident about what I’m doing right now.”

He had several family members in the audience, including his parents, siblings, and grandparents.

Eighth grader Dylan Rezendes began acting three years ago. He played Mufasa, Scar’s brother and King of the Lions. His twin brother Christian played Simba, Mufasa’s son.

Audience members were amazed when the two where on stage together acting out the scene to the song He Lives in You. It is a pivotal portion of the play when Simba’s reflection reminds him of his father.

By the end of the play audience members were on their feet.

William Donovan attended the event with his mother and said the best part was when they sang Hakuna Matata. For Jacob Almeida it was a lot harder to pick a favorite scene, noting he loved it all.

“It was a thrilling production based on the broadway production,” he said.