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South Jordan Journal

Elk Ridge Middle School Students to Perform “The Lion King, Jr.”

Feb 08, 2017 03:42PM ● By Jana Klopsch

“The Lion King, Jr.” cast at Elk Ridge Middle School rehearses “I Just Can't Wait to be King.” (Kristie Wallace/Elk Ridge Middle School)

By Julie Slama

About 130 Elk Ridge Middle School students will take part in “The Lion King, Jr.” in February.

The show, set for 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 1 through Saturday, Feb. 4, will be performed at the school auditorium, 3659 West 9800 South.  Tickets are $3 and are available at  

The cast includes ninth-grader Emily Royall as Rafiki, ninth-grader Hunter Hankins as Mufasa, ninth-grader Ammon Christiansen as the adult Simba and ninth-grader Trenton Peck as the young Simba.

“When we were looking at shows, we wanted a show where the theme allows the students to grow as people as well as in theatre, and this show does that,” director Kristie Post Wallace said.  “The main theme is ‘know who you are and how you can adapt to new situations, new ideas and experiences.’”

She said that as part of the educational side of theatre, students have learned and discussed the themes of always learning and growing.

Co-directing the show is Anne Fife, a local deaf actress, who translated the entire script into American Sign Language, then taught students how to sign.

“Signing in the show helps them understand who they are and how they communicate.  It’s another part of changing and adapting and adds another layer to the show.  These students didn’t know they’d be learning how to sign or even that we’d be including it in the show, but they jumped right in to learn how to interpret, and it has given our performance a different perspective,” Wallace said.

Several student actors will sign, shadowing the main characters.  These students include eighth-grader Annika Peebler, Rafiki ASL shadow interpreter; ninth-grader Braxton Shunk, Muafasa ASL shadow interpreter and ninth-grader Ethan Carlson, Simba ASL shadow interpreter.  Other ASL shadow interpreters include ninth-grader Malena Hales, eighth-grader Alexandria Greathouse, ninth-grader Makayla Mason, ninth-grader McKay Hoffman and eighth-grader Parker Fife.  

Joining Wallace and Fife are student directors Jackson Holladay and Kaitlyn Brande, who are former Elk Ridge students now attending Bingham High, music director and choreographer Keith Goodrich, vocal coach and hair stylist Camille Cook, costumer parent volunteer Jessica Peck, mask design and creator Sam Burt, program designer Megan Rees and logo designer ninth-grader Emily Wight.

“We based our production from the Broadway show, which has songs that the audience may not be familiar with.  In fact, only three of our cast members had seen the play, so they had fun discovering the song for the first time.  It makes the show new, fresh and better,” Wallace said about the performance that is about 75 minutes long.

The costumes include African prints and plastic masks that were bent into shape for the lions. 

“We owe a lot to our parent volunteer who is creating these amazing costumes,” Wallace said.  

In addition, the lion characters have plastic masks that were created and molded to wear on their foreheads. 

“They’re just wonderful.  Our art teacher has worked with two students to create the molds. And the elephants, rhinos, cheetahs are all done with puppetry.  The giraffe is on stilts. Our tech class is building and painting the set and will run light and sound.  It’s just a wonderful show that involves so many of our stellar, talented students,” she said.