In Focus: Grand Rapids Players Present “The Lion King, Jr.”
A few of Grand Rapids’ smallest actors are taking audiences to the Pride Lands as “The Lion King, Jr.” makes its way to the Reif Center.
“It’s the junior version, so it’s a shorter version. It’s a one hour so there’s not all the songs, but there’s a good number [of them]! You’ll recognize all the songs,” says Jim Cagle, the show’s director.
“We’ve been doing this for probably about 3 months. In the ensemble, it’s a little different from the main characters. It’s a lot more singing and dancing. It’s not as many facial expressions, but it’s a lot of work getting all the songs right and dance moves as a group,” says Eiley Lien, a member of the ensemble.
The show is being produced by the Grand Rapids Players in collaboration with The Reif Center. More than 50 kids are a part of the production and playing iconic roles that most will recognize.
“My favorite part is sincerely when we try to plan to kill Mufasa,” says Autumn Bisbee, who plays the hyena Shenzi.
“I like the “Circle of Life” and I also like doing “Be Prepared”, when we go out in the audience,” says Riley Stovall, another member of the ensemble.
Many of the kids were also working behind the scenes and coming up with ideas to make the show something they could be proud of.
“Somebody had an idea of that the Pride Rock should be Scar’s cave as well, but just turn it around,” says Bisbee.
“Yeah, it’s really been just like going in and showing our creative side,” adds Jacob Anderson, who plays Mufasa.
After months of practice, the show is finally opening this weekend. The kids say they’re excited to show off their skills.
“We’ve definitely improved, that’s for sure. We’ve come a long way, but it’s been a lot of fun, though,” says Anderson.
“Like every other production that we ever see we have peaks and valleys as we’re going, and we’re right at that point where we need that audience, and it’s so exciting to see those kids gel together and really kick it,” says Cagle.
The Lion King, Jr. will run through this weekend at the Reif Center: you can find more information here. The Grand Rapids Players also have a production of Beauty and The Beast set to debut next month.