THE LION KING Roars To Life On Stage This Month at Alpine Theatre Project

THE LION KING Roars To Life On Stage This Month at Alpine Theatre ProjectThe best selling Broadway musical of all time comes to life on stage in the upcoming production of The Lion King Jr presented by ATP Kids, Alpine Theatre Project's theatre education program, at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center October 20th & 21st.

One hundred seventy four local students from 16 elementary and middle schools across the Valley are participating in the productions and are split into two casts for four performances: 2pm & 7pm on Oct. 20th and 2pm & 6pm on Oct. 21st. The Lion King Jr marks the 10th year of the ATP Kids program, dedicated to empowering and inspiring students through theatre education. Over 1,500 students have participated in the ATP Kids program since its inception in 2008.

Disney's The Lion King became a worldwide phenomenon when it was released in 1994, winning several Academy Awards. It was then adapted for the stage in a groundbreaking Broadway production by Julie Taymor, using elements of puppetry and the cultural traditions of various African nations to tell the story. To date, The Lion King is the highest grossing Broadway production of all time, surpassing The Phantom of the Opera. The Lion King Jr is based on the Broadway production, adapted for younger actors.

The Lion King Jr follows the adventures of the young lion Simba, the heir of his father, Mufasa. Simba's wicked uncle, Scar, plots to usurp Mufasa's throne by luring father and son into a stampede of wildebeests. Simba escapes, but Scar kills Mufasa in the process and convinces Simba to leave the Pridelands, leaving him as ruler. After growing up in exile with his new friends, Timon & Pumbaa, Simba eventually learns to confront his past, become who he was always meant to be, and take his rightful place in the neverending circle of life. It contains some of the most enduring songs from the award-winning film like, "The Circle of Life," "Hakuna Matata," and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," as well as breathtaking new songs and chants written in Swahili, Zulu, and Xhosa.

To costume all 174 students in costumes and puppets reminiscent of the original Broadway production, Alpine Theatre Project had to get creative. Costumes were rented from several rental companies around the country and extra fundraising was needed to cover the extra cost.

"This is one of the greatest Broadway shows of all time, with such a beautiful message" says director, Betsi Morrison. "The costumes and puppets are an integral part to telling the story, though we were not anticipating such a huge turnout of students!"

Morrison is alluding to the fact that, in the ATP Kids program, no student is turned away, and parts are found for all students who want to participate.

"It has been an absolute joy working with so many students," she said, "Showing them how to find their confidence and use their creativity to tell this timeless tale of acceptance, family, and pride has been thrilling. We are so proud of them."

The ATP Kids program is the cornerstone of Alpine Theatre Project's educational programming, which include programs for elementary, middle, and high school students along with professional internships, and a summer Broadway training camp. No student is ever turned away. Over 1,500 students have taken part in ATP's educational programs since 2008. This session is being taught by Morrison and professional actors, Luke Walrath and Rebecca Spear with assistance this year by Jami James.

This session of ATP Kids is presented by Kalispell KiDDS and sponsored by the Foley Family Charitable Foundation, Flathead Electric Coop, Flathead Urology, Kalispell Regional Healthcare, Glacier Park Realty, Stebbins Orthodontics, and State Farm Insurance. The costumes and puppets in the production were sponsored by Rick & Alicia Blake, Doug & Allison O'Briant, and through the annual ATP Kids Raffle.

Tickets for The Lion King Jr are $18 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under, and can be ordered by calling 862-SHOW (7469) or visiting

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