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BWW Previews: LION KING JR. ROARS INTO TECO THEATRE at The Straz Center For The Performing Arts

A sold out show is the ultimate goal for any theatre, but a sold out run before even going into tech week is a dream come true.

On July 20-23, The Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts will present Disney's The Lion King, Jr. in the TECO Theater to a sold-out crowd. The theatre had to add an additional Thursday performance to accommodate the requests.

With three weeks to rehearse this Disney favorite set on the African savannah, third graders through eight graders are excited to bring the beloved inspiring movie classic to life. Two of its leads Simba (Quinten Hall, 13) and Scar (Thomas Woodrow, 11) are proud to show the talent that young people can offer as they journey from Pride Rock to the jungle and back again.

Quinten and Thomas come from a community theatre background and both were shocked to learn after auditions and callbacks that their 16 bars of a song, monologue and dance combination earned them the pivotal roles.

"When I was little, I was always energetic and wanted to be the star of everything," Quinten explained. "My parents wanted to put my energy to good use. Theatre is a really good way to help control my energy, learn to work with others and not always be the star."

His favorite song is "He Lives in You" because he feels the meaning goes a lot deeper.

"The show feels really professional, not a typical children's production. From where we were at auditions to where we are now, this show is going to be really good," he said.

Thomas agree, "Everyone is so talented and this show is really good. I was just so happy to get into the show; I didn't expect to get Scar, but I am really happy that I am performing as him. I love performing the song Be Prepared because it's so energetic and talking about the plan to kill Mufasa. It makes me get more evil into the show."

Other favorite songs from the popular Disney film and full length live musical, such as Circle Of Life, I Just Can't Wait To Be King, Be Prepared, Hakuna Matata and Can You Feel The Love Tonight are featured.

"It's a little different from some of the shows you typically see by this age group. It has a lot of fun to it, but it also gets much deeper. It's been a fun challenge to work through with this cast. They learned how to build strong, meaningful characters in the characters they are creating on stage," said director Audrey Siegler.

"The audience should expect to be impressed by the talent of these students. I think a lot of times people underestimate what elementary and middle school performers are capable of. My hope is that they forget the age of the actors and really join us for the story and be intoxicated about what they are able to witness."

Performances are Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 1 and 4 p.m. Regularly priced tickets to Disney's The Lion King, Jr. are $15-$20 and Thursday tickets may be purchased by calling 813.229.STAR (7827) or 800.955.1045 outside Tampa Bay, in person at the Straz Center Ticket Office or online at


Registration for more than 100 dance, music and theatre classes in age-specific categories, ranging from pre-K to adult, is now open for 2017 fall classes in dance, theater and music at the fully accredited Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. Classes begin Sept.5.

A full listing of classes, descriptions and schedules is available at Registration is available online, by calling 813.222.1040 and in person at the Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. The fall catalogue may be viewed online or mailed upon request. Tours of the Patel Conservatory are held by appointment Thursdays at 4 p.m. and Saturdays at 10 a.m.

To ensure access to high-quality art education experiences for everyone, the Patel Conservatory provides scholarships to students who might otherwise be unable to participate. Scholarship applications will be accepted through July 22 and can be obtained through the Admissions office or online at

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From This Author - Deborah Bostock-Kelley

A twice-published author, multi-time award-winning playwright, magazine writer, theatre reviewer, and newspaper journalist with 30+ years in journalism and business copywriting, Deb was a 2019 Reci... (read more about this author)

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