Wild Animals Take Over Homestead

Jasmine Lynch (Sarabi) – “My favorite is Circle of Life. It’s a song that brings everyone together and it’s very emotional.”

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Picture by: Betty Chirino Miranda

The theater was lively with the munching of popcorn and the laughter of children. Staring at the stage I felt the itch. I’m not sure what you might be thinking but the itch I’m thinking about is that itch to get up on stage and perform. It always takes over every time I see a stage. I’m incredibly sad I couldn’t be apart of the show. Apparently me being a young 23-year-old meant I couldn’t pass for a young 15-year-old. I guess my dream to be in Lion King will be fulfilled some other time. Everyone was buzzing with excitement and then the moment everyone was waiting for…

Picture by: Betty Chirino Miranda

Elizabth Odife (Ed) – “It was a lot of fun to play a hyena. I got to experiment a lot and make people laugh.”
Adara Cardona (Shenzi) – “Yeah it was fun to be a hyena and the stance was pretty cool too! Getting the laughs was great.”

The lights dimmed down….

Rashad Davis (Simba) – “The mask was the best part about being Simba. I like how it looks. It was great!”
All that was illuminated was the background of a sunrise. A powerful voice rang out with attention. Ellie Rey who played Rafiki opened up with Circle of Life. Animals began to float down the aisles. I immediately had chills running up my spine. Mufasa and Sarabi entered holding baby Simba, passed him to Rafiki as all the animals gathered and bowed before the new prince. It was pretty astounding for a bunch of kids. Nikolai Guzman who played Scar surprised me by how well he was able to hold a British accent. He controlled the stage as he snaked back and forth plotting to get rid of Mufasa. Young Simba was adorable especially the innocent way he played with Nala and making fun of Zazu.
Ellie Rae (Rafiki) – “Trying to act like a monkey without taking it too far was a bit of a challenge because Rafiki is somewhat wise you know but he’s also Rafiki.”

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Picture by: Betty Chirino Miranda

What I found really interesting was the way the hyenas were created. The girls and boys playing the hyenas were dressed in dark clothing with marking on their pants. Their faces were painted and in the hands were hyena heads made from binders. They used them as puppets. It was a clever way to bring the illusion of animals to life! That being said I must make a comment on the costumes. They were amazing! And a lot of them reminded me of the ones on Broadway! I know Magaly Perez paid attention to detail when it came to every color, pattern and stitch that got put into every single animal.
Gia De Santino (Choreographer)- “The way the kids took Ed under their wings and were so incredibly patient with him was inspiring. They all look after him like a little cub and it really reminded you that kindness still exists.”

Picture by: Betty Chirino Miranda

Another clever thing was the way Mufasa’s death was acted out. Kids dressed as wildebeests stampede back and forth between sets masking Mufasa as he desperately tried to get to Simba. Once the commotion was done all that was left was Simba alone on stage in dim lighting. The lights black out Simba and Scar making them appear as shadows as Scar convinced Simba that his father’s death was his fault and to run away. Something about seeing the actors as mere shadows created a more intense and heartbreaking scene. Act 1 ended on a heavy note/cliffhanger (despite the fact we all knows what happens…you do know what happens right?) with Scar announcing the death of Mufasa with a sneer. Cue major applause.

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Picture by: Betty Chirino Miranda

Annamaria Souvenir (Mufasa) – “Playing a strong masculine role as a female was challenging seeing how I had to make sure I wasn’t acting too ‘girly.’ It was frustrating at times but a definite learning curb.”

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Picture by: Betty Chirino Miranda

After intermission my favorite scene began. And if you don’t know it’s basically any scene with Timon and Pumba. My favorite part of the show would have to be Timon and Pumba singing Hakuana Matata. Timon played Emily Navarro and Pumba played by Alexander Bencomo were a dynamic duo. The chemistry was all there and the audience were cracking up like hyenas (good ones though). They were hysterical together. Their jungle home consisted of hanging vines, disco lights and bright flower walls. They had everyone singing Hakuna Matata. It definitely gave the audience a much-needed laugh. Samantha Fernandez who played older Nala gave a great vocal performance and what I noticed instantly was her dancing ability. Pointed toes, straight legs and beautiful arms drove me to that easy conclusion.

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Picture by: Betty Chirino Miranda

Nicolas Miranda (Young Simba) – “Trying to stay serious when you were suppose too was hard. Like when my mom looks at me and cries I try not to laugh.”

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Picture by: Betty Chirino Miranda

The ending. That surprised me. Seeing how I had never seen a stage performance of Lion King I had wondered how the ending would be. And let me tell you although it’s more or less different the end result is the same. Instead of fire the lionesses and hyenas battle it out before realizing their true enemy had been Scar along. They drive him out of the Pride lands and everyone cheers as Simba resumes his rightful place as King. Scene changes to Simba and Nala walking up Pride Rock as Rafiki our crazy loving bamboo ends the show with the Circle of Life reprise and presenting Simba’s child. It really is the Circle of Life. We are brought into this world, we walk through life’s many challenges and grow up. It’s a never ending cycle. But we can either enjoy the ride and tackle what ever comes our way or we can drown in only the negative much like Scar. So are you Scar or Simba? I know who I am. Timon, duh.

Magaly Perez (Director) – “What does it feel like to be directing again? Indescribable, stressful, hopeful, like I’m going to cry. Will we make it? We will make it. It’s a whirlwind of emotions but you know at the end it’ll be great and a relief which it was!”

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