MASK presents Lion King Jr.

New production showcases newfound talents, brings African influences to Minot

Ashton Gerard/MDN Make a Scene Kids Theater is presenting their production of “The Lion King Jr.” starting today at 6 p.m. on the Roosevelt Park Stage. The show will run through Sunday.

To open up the school year and present the talents and efforts Make a Scene Kids Theater has been working on all summer, the cast and crew are transporting residents to the African grasslands and jungle with their production of “The Lion King Jr.”

The show opens today at 6 p.m. at the Roosevelt Park Stage. It will continue through the weekend with shows Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for kids and seniors.

“I think when (the kids) found out and heard (about Lion King), they were super excited because it’s a familiar one,” said director Stephanie Chell. “Old people like myself have nostalgia because that’s what we grew up watching…I have three kids in the show so to be able to share something that was so important to me was pretty exciting.”

The main challenge for any outdoor production is the weather, and things aren’t any different for MASK. Chell added it can also be challenging wrangling the children and channeling their focus into the show.

“Many of them are brand new to theater so it’s really a time of training and learning,” Chell explained. “It’s been fun to see kids come in with absolutely no theater experience all of a sudden say ‘Oh, I know these terms.'”

Ashton Gerard/MDN Scar and Zazu face off after Scar failed to attend the newborn Simba’s presentation ceremony.

In a program designed to give children opportunities to guide, inspire and educate in theater, Chell is also always impressed with the growth each child goes through in each production. Chell sees a boost in confidence, self esteem and knowledge in the youngsters involved.

Kambira Hall, 12, who plays old Simba in the musical, is just excited for the public to see what the crew has been working on since mid-July.

“It’s been really fun just going to practices and working on it at home,” she said. “I’m excited for (the crowd) to hear me sing.”

The children have had to learn different aspects of African culture to be able to bring “The Lion King Jr.” to life and it’s something 11-year-old Xylia Michels, one of Scar’s hyenas, is excited to share with the community.

Codey Irwin, 11, who plays Timon, said she’s excited for the community to see the entire cast come together and see the friendships they’ve built from the production.

Ashton Gerard/MDN The lionesses of Pride Rock perform a dance between scenes during MASK’s production of “The Lion King Jr.”

“We’ve had a lot of new kids this year and I feel like we’ve made a really good production with all the different people here,” Irwin added.

“I have to say ‘Circle of Life’ with all the animals is probably my favorite (scene),” Chell said. “But so many of the scenes touch on a lot of growth in the actors — some of them had to do death scenes for the first time; or bringing in the concept of not having all the props to really bring (a scene) to life.”

To purchase tickets and learn more about MASK, visit https://www.steamnd.org/.


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