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"Lion King, Jr." Brings Scotia to a Standing Ovation

Short Description of "Lion King, Jr." Brings Scotia to a Standing Ovation

The Lion King, Jr. (review)

Scotia Middle School

Scotia, NY

Generally speaking, a reviewer has a pretty good hunch when a show is going to demand a standing ovation from the audience. I see it at Proctors, Capital Rep, and about a dozen other theaters I review for, from the Berkshire Theatre Group, Shakespeare & Co., and numerous others all the way to Boston and down to Hartford. Excellence is smelled in the air long before most casual theater-goers know what is coming their way. Reviewers tend to hear the vibration of a great performance on the tracks.

When I heard “The Lion King, Jr”, the (slightly) abbreviated version of its big brother, “Disney’s The Lion King”,  has made its way to the Scotia Middle School for its Spring performance., I decided I needed to check it out. With Les Mis behind us now for about a year (since it opened its doors to community theater), and “Disney’s The Lion King” having just swept through Proctors, “Lion King, Jr.” was simply a must see. The timing was impeccable.

I had no idea what I was in for.

As I recently penned in my review of the Proctors show, "Disney's The Lion King", the sensation about Simba the Lion and his quest for the meaning of his father's untimely death, is simply one of those baton's of human creations we wish to pass to our children, and then to their children. But to have kids perform this show is no easy matter. We have costumes to contend with, lighting, script—and let’s not mistake the singing, much of which generates from Africa.

To cut to the chase, this is one of the best school productions I have ever seen—ever. Rich in design and complexity, spellbinding in execution, there was not one member of the audience who did not have goosebumps during the performance of “Endless Night”. The backdrop was a chorus of singers tucked off to the side that provided accompaniment like a chorus of angels. Their voices echoed through the chamber, providing an anchor that was simply beautiful.

The costumes are off the charts original and authentic. Our performers donned some of the best lion masks and costumes I have ever seen, all handmade, all set to landscaped scenery of original and authentic hand-crafted murals. Our student actors and actresses were simply spectacular, gripping their audience in the mirage tale of one child’s fight for justice on the African plains.

One person needs to sit at the helm, of course, and that someone here is Pamela Bemis, who no doubt faced fear and trepidation in taking such a complex work to such heights. But she knew she had a gifted and talented group of kids to work with, and a support staff of parents and others, that were up to the challenge. The result was a must-see performance that far exceeds any Middle School expectations.

This author is certainly glad Ms. Bemis and her team took the plunge, and the hundreds standing at the end of the show were glad, too. It took a village to pull this show off, the Village of Scotia, and a new benchmark for school productions has been reached.

   By Richard DiMaggio, didyouweekend.com

Approx time 90 minutes, no intermission

Cast: A whole bunch of kids that should be really, really proud of themselves

Richard DiMaggio is a retired attorney who specialized for 25 years in complex litigation involving banking and finance. He is now Editor- in- Chief in diduyouweekend.com, a Start Up which will be beta testing this Fall, and is the largest posting for fun things to do in the weekend.

Music & Lyrics – Elton John and Tim Rice

Additional: Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin, Hans Zimmer

Book: Roger Allers & Irene Mecchi

Based on the Broadway Production by Julie Taymor

Adaptation: Will Van Dyke

 

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Address: Scotia, NY 12302, USA

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