by Destiney Warren
Everyone loves Lion King. I mean it has everything: romance, adventure, plots against kings, and even a little family drama, all while being a cute Disney movie the whole family can enjoy. Children’s Musical Theaterworks takes Disney’s Lion King Jr and presents a musical that everyone can enjoy as well—whether you have a kid in the cast or not. My boyfriend and I didn’t know anyone in the show, and we still had a great night.
It helps that the show is hilarious. While humor can sometimes be hard for any cast to do well, the kids in this show definitely pulled it off. We went on the first Saturday so our cast was the Savannah cast. They have such a large group they split it up into two different casts. Zachary Kelley who played Pumba was the one that stole the show for me. He hit all the funny parts that made Pumba such a lovable character while making it his own as well. Timon was played by Samantha Shaheen-Smith who handled the role perfectly. These characters are much loved by adults and children alike and both these young actors were fun to watch. Another character that was laugh-out-loud funny was Ed the hyena played by Ivan Hernandez. While it’s a smaller role (no actual lines just crazy laughter) there was never a moment that he was on stage that the whole audience wasn’t giggling. Ivan captured the craziness of the character perfectly.
Scar was played by Jake Corson, and his character was just the right amount of devious without being scary. Rest assured, you could take a child of any age to this production. There are some slightly intense moments with the lighting and music when there is supposed to be a scary part, but if your child has seen the movie, then they should be fine.
Musically, I was blown away by Rafiki who was played by Vega Ankrum. Her voice was amazing! It filled the entire room and was very impressive for a seventh grader. I was also excited to hear “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” which is my absolute favorite song from the movie. Nathan Gettman and Rebekah Williams, who played Simba and Nala, sang it beautifully with help from the entire cast.
I would definitely suggest going to see this show. Take your kids, your nieces or nephews, or even your neighbor’s kids. Even if you don’t have any kids to take, go anyway, and support the future actors of the Central Valley. Who knows? In the next ten years they may be acting in the Good Company Players or at the River City Opera House.
The performances are being held at the Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium in Downtown Fresno, 2425 Fresno St., and the tickets are only $15. There are still four shows left: August 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m. and also August 12 and 13 at 2 p.m. You can purchase tickets online or at the box office. You can learn more and order tickets on the CMT website.
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