WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE! THE LION KING COMES TO WEST SEATTLE
By JP Scratches
May 21, 2016- The beloved children’s classic “the Lion King” came to life in West Seattle this weekend as the Lafayette Theater Group gave a 3-night performance featuring over 70 students in unique make-up and designer costumes.
Directed by Joel Oltyan (with Assistant Director Diana Toledo-Palmer), and choreographed by Linda Filley Bentler; the show was a magical combination of beautifully delivered musical numbers, laugh-out-loud comedy, heartbreaking drama, and a stand up and shout inspirational finale.
We are first introduced to Eliose Perkins who was perfectly cast as the quirky shaman Rafiki; who along with her sidekick Brennan Ryan, leads a 40 person plant and animal ensemble in a wonderfully choreographed opening number.
The scene moves quickly from inspiration and heartwarming wonder to drama and suspense as Savannah Faber delivers a masterful performance as the villainous Scar, playing opposite of Mac Davido whose portrayal of the heroic Mufasa brought to the stage strength, confidence, and a lion’s roar that sent shivers down my spine. Joining these two artistic powerhouses was a stand-out performance by Jordan Palmer, who absolutely shined as King Mufasa’s advisor; the wonderfully witty Zazu. Jordan brought a sharp wit and great delivery to multiple scenes throughout the play and looked absolutely radiant adorned in a beautiful blue outfit which seemed to glow from the stage.
Scar’s pack of hideous hyena’s are a joy to watch; as no group of scheming scoundrels has ever been so much fun! Riley Shipps, Frances Laughlin, Celeste DeRonghe, Austin Higgins, Cooper Guidry, and Lachlan Swanson work wonderfully together and would be hilarious in a hyena’s spin-off performance. Each actor brings confidence and charisma to the criminally callous cur! Wickedly delicious!
Young Simba and Young Nala are played by Santi Cortez and Emily Oltyan who are adorable as best friends looking for adventure. Santi brings the bright-eyed wonder of Simba to life with wonderful musical performances and great interaction with both Mufasa and Nala. Emily Oltyan delivers a sassy, scene stealing performance which plays perfectly against Santi’s character.
There was also a quiet beauty and calm confidence brought to the stage by Sarabi and the Lionesses; who float across the stage with the strength and power of a true pride. Adorned in flowing gowns, veils, and jewelry worthy of queens. This group of actresses are fierce and formidable, and took command of the stage with striking movements and poses. Outstandingly played by Avery Darwin, Audrey Quinn, Juliana Shilipeter, Grace Bodensteiner, Myah Arrington, Jasmine Brathwaite, Anna Clark, Ellie Gunlogson, Millie Hanson, Zhaiarah Holiday, Lucy LeBaron, Sophia Litton, Lola Personett, Audrey Quinn, Brooke Swanson, and Olivia Walum.
Hannah Bonsack gives a great portrayal of the older, teen-aged Simba, who is unsure of himself, but wants to do what’s right; still needing a little encouragement from Nala (now played by Kendall Horgan). These two do an excellent job of character development and the coming-of-age transition of Simba as he fights through his insecurities to become the rightful king; and share a beautiful musical duet along the way.
Stella Allen, Daisy Crabtree, and Rylee Malloy fired up the crowd as Timon, Pumbaa, and Jina (Simba’s friends). These three bring an incredible combination of comedy, talent, and energy that had me wanting to get on stage. They looked like they were having so much fun I wanted to join in!
The show was amazing from start to finish, with scenes flowing seamlessly thanks to the stage direction of Genevive Kostic and Kaya Hubbard; culminating in a 70+ on-stage student finale. The sheer amount of work put into the creation of the over 70 unique costumes is awe-inspiring. Designer Naomi Hayland, along with Kristi Brown, Jill Amsberry, and Nita Gillenwaters should be proud of what they have accomplished. With the artistry of Alexis Allen adding the finishing touches to each character with fun make-up designs individualized for each animal.
There is no doubt that we will see many of these young actors move on to greater roles as many have already mastered character physics, stage presence, and a wonderful command of comedy, drama, and action.
Great job Joel Oltyan and team! Thank you for allowing us to share in such a wonderful event!