A theatre company at a Cedar Hills-area elementary school is back, this time with its largest ever undertaking.
Betty Huff Theatre Company’s version of “Lion King Junior” hits the stage from Monday, April 24 to Thursday, April 27.
Members of the young cast and crew have been working on the colourful Disney classic since last September, according to director/teacher Steve Swaddling.
“They first had to learn the African language and songs presented in the show,” Swaddling told the Now-Leader. “Then they auditioned in October and have been working the choreography and finally the blocking on stage. Many of them did all this while also learning and performing a second show, ‘The Boxcar Children’ at Christmas.”
The school’s theatre company was launched in 2002, after its all-school productions had run out of steam. From then on, Swaddling decided to create shows involving only students who wanted to be part of an after-school theatre club.
The company’s two yearly shows are student-run productions – with the help of adults, of course, including Swaddling, costume designer Susan Ottewell, set designer Jessica Oostergo, lighting by Darryl Strohan, choreography by Krystal Naderi, dance instruction from Beatrice Bengtson with Dance Barn in Langley and volunteers from Blanche Macdonald school of makeup.
“This has been the largest undertaking we have ever tried as a theatre company,” Swaddling said. “Of course, many teachers have been helping out and keeping everything running behind the scenes. This has been a labour of love for everyone involved, and the end is near. All that is left is performing before live audiences.”
For “Lion King Junior,” the young actors have rehearsed six hours a week, culminating in 12-hour weeks leading up to show dates. The cast of 36 actors, along with the 14-person crew, will stage nine performances over four days.
”Over half of the actors are new to our stage and are in Grade 4 and Grade 5,” Swaddling noted. Also, the show features 18 ensemble actors playing the animals and various creatures.
In feature roles, cast members are Kiara Hernandez (as Young Simba), Brinda Pramod (Young Nala), Andrew Esteron (Mufasa) Prisha Guha (Scar), Akash Lalli (Old Simba), Jiya Notta (Old Nala), Dyllan Garcia (Pumbaa), Jaslien Sangha (Timon), Jasmyn Mahal (Sarabi), Rivini Madawanarachchi (Banzi), Danielle Garcia (Shenzi), Nailah Ali (Ed), Karla Alvarez (Zazu), Emma Mapanao (Rafiki) and Angela Ordoyo (Sarafina).
A “huge thank-you” goes to show sponsors, Swaddling said, including BC Retired Teachers’ Association, UPS, HollyNorth, Telus Community Connections, John O’Neal, Reliable Rentals, Cloverdale Paint and Canada Scaffold.
“We couldn’t do it without our sponsors who each year contribute to the overall success of our theatre program,” he noted.
Tickets are $6 for the evening “Lion King Junior” shows, which start at 7 p.m. The school is located at 13055 Huntley Ave., Surrey, and the theatre company is on the web at Bettyhufftheatre.ca.
In previous years, the company has staged junior productions of “Aladdin,” “Annie,” “Into The Woods,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Murder by the Book,” “Toy Camp,” “Oliver Twist” and other shows.