BWW Review: THE LION KING JR. at Des Moines Roosevelt High School Theatre
If you long to be thoroughly immersed in the circle of life and the full "Lion King Experience," then head to Roosevelt High School's theatrical fall musical production of "The Lion King, Jr.", which runs this weekend, Nov. 9th -11th.
Michael Davenport, Artistic Director and Devon Steve, Musical Director of Roosevelt Repertory Theatre, collaborated to create a masterpiece of musicianship and movement on the stage. This production that was performed on opening night was a true joy to watch as it brought to life a beautiful childhood classic.
From the moment the show begins, you are transported to scenery reminiscent of a beautiful African savanna and the world of "The Lion King" as Rafiki (played by the talented Kiana Collier) belts out "The Circle of Life." The diverse ensemble, colorfully garbed, joins in harmonizing the Nants' Ingonyama as they envelope the audience with their warm musical tones and their youthful energy.
The mischievous but delightful cub Simba is played by Alexis Castros. He embraces Simba's attempts at "roars" and energizes the audience with "I Just Can't Wait to Be King." His partner in crime, Young Nala, is played by Nadia Palmer. Together they create a charming, playful and tumbling relationship on stage.
Jamal Johnson is Simba's wise and caring father, Mufasa. His paternal song of "They Live in You" touched a chord, grounding the show in its deeper meaning of love and well, the circle of life. Zazu, Mufasa's majordomo, was portrayed by Geneva Klein. She was the perfect amount of energy, peskiness and talent. Sarabi, queen of the pride was played with a quiet confidence by Isabell Robinson. Shaddai Johnson portrayed Nala's strong and honorable mother Sarafina.
Mansfield commanded the stage and brought true scheming and devilish charm to his role as Scar, Mufasa's jaded younger brother. He not only sang "Be Prepared" with a dark, sinister tone of voice, but completely throws himself all into his character. His posse of hyenas (which included Olivia Allen, Abbie Phelps and Kathy Velez) are tough, funny and yes, truth be told, a little frightening.
Tutty and Grant Sanford are a fantastic comedic duo who play Timon and Pumbaa. Tutty's energy and pun-tastic know-it-all meerket is matched with Sanford's jovial, carefree rendition of the warthog.
Gary McCall bounded onto the stage during "Hakuna Matata" as the full grown Simba, it was a moment that was highly anticipated and he was warmly received by the audience. McCall brought fantastic physical movement to this role and embraced his character entirely. His dancing was matched only by his musical talent and was complimented nicely by Jane Romp, who played the grown-up Nala. Romp's rendition of "Shadowland" was quite lovely.
Roosevelt Theatre Arts program is designed to enhance artistic expression and improve the lives of students, while making a positive impact on our community. This production, boasting a diverse case of over 130 thespians, showcases a deep reservoir of talent at this high school. " Lion King" reflects the spirit of life that is alive and well. Remember and reflect upon this final poignant message at the end of the show: "He lives in you. He lives in me. He watches over everything we see. Into the water, into the truth, in your reflection he lives in you.
To learn more about Theodore Roosevelt High School and their theatre productions, check out www.roosevelt.dmschools.org.
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