Disney’s The Lion King Jr will be brought to the stage by ACT at Giffey Hall this fall.
Rafiki (Hollyn Klopfenstein, Pettisville) gathers the animals of the Pridelands to welcome the newborn cub of King Mufasa (Trace Schultheis, Napoleon) and Queen Sarabi (Madelyn Westrick, Wauseon). The king’s jealous brother, Scar (Josiah Ruiz, Archbold), no longer heir to the throne, skips the ceremony, upsetting Mufasa.
Time passes and Young Simba (CJ Ridley, Napoleon) grows into a curious young lion. Mufasa explains the circle of life and that Young Simba will one day be king of the Pridelands. Young Simba shares this news with Scar, who encourages his nephew to visit the forbidden elephant graveyard. Young Simba finds his best friend, Young Nala (Ava Genter, Pettisville), hunting with Sarafina (Caroline Sterken, Pettisville) and the lionesses and invites her on his adventure.
Once they ditch their overbearing babysitter, Zazu (Amelia Canales, Ney), the cubs encounter the ravenous Shenzi (Tessa Nafziger, Archbold), Banzai (Gage Nafziger, Archbold) and Ed (Elsie Mello, Archbold) in the graveyard. Mufasa arrives and pummels the hyenas then takes the cubs home. Scar emerges from the darkness to recruit the Hyenas in his murderous plan to become king. Back in the Pridelands, Mufasa reprimands Young Simba then shares the guidance of their ancestors, up among the stars.
Enacting his plan, Scar leaves Young Simba alone in the gorge and signals the hyenas to scare a herd of wildebeest. Scar alerts Mufasa, who leaps into the stampede to save his son. Mufasa rescues Young Simba, but Scar pushes his brother back into the gorge, where he is trampled. Scar blames Young Simba for the king’s death and tells him to run away and never return. As Sarabi, Young Nala, Rafiki and the lionesses mourn the loss of Mufasa and Young Simba, Scar assumes the throne, uniting lions and hyenas under his dark reign. Lost in the desert, Young Simba meets Timon (Emma Bailey, Defiance) and Pumbaa (Joshua Reeb, Stryker), who take him to their “worry-free” jungle home.
Under Scar’s reign, the Pridelands are nearly destroyed. Now grown, Nala (Meggie Mello, Archbold) decides to leave and seek help. To her delight, she finds grown Simba (Trace Schultheis, Napoleon) alive in the jungle. Nala urges him to take his rightful place as king but, still ashamed, Simba refuses.
Rafiki appears and helps Simba remember his father. With newfound courage, Simba agrees to return to the Pridelands. Timon and Pumbaa distract the hyenas while Nala rallies the lionesses. Simba confronts his uncle, the truth of Mufasa’s murder is revealed and Scar runs away, pursued by angry hyenas. With peace restored in the Pridelands, Simba takes his place as king and the circle of life continues.
The chorus members portraying hyenas, wildebeests and other animals are Aubrey Clemens, McKenzie Clemens and Kennedy Morr of Stryker; Kathryn Bechtol, Delilah Chapa, Izabella Chapa, Adrienne Damman and Luke Damman of Napoleon; Kate Krueger, Adelynn Nafziger, Julisa Nafziger of Archbold; Reece Miller of Defiance and Annie Riegsecker of Holgate.
The Lion King Jr is being directed by Teresa Van Sickle (Archbold). Her directing team includes assistant director Ryan Mooney (Continental), vocal director Bethany Riegsecker (Holgate) and choreographer MacKenna Whitacre (Archbold).
The Lion King Jr will be held at Giffey Hall in Ridgeville Corners on Sept. 29 and 30 and Oct. 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 8 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets go on sale on Monday, Sept. 11 and can be ordered by calling 419-267-5717.