Simply put, the Archbold Community Theatre production of “The Lion King Jr.” is one of the best childrens shows it has ever done.
One does not generally go into a childrens production expecting anything other than children putting on a play.
But as one allows oneself to be gathered up into the magic of the story, moments of excellence break through.
Some of the best moments are when the cast is on stage, performing some of the African inspired chants and songs.
The costuming, lighting, and music come together exceptionally well. It’s still children singing, and it’s really good.
The girls who make up the lionesses should be singled out. Their costumes are beautiful, their dancing and movement on stage flows, and their singing is much better than expected.
It’s not perfect, but it’s very, very good.
Memorizing and reciting lines is hard enough, but acting, adding tone and inflection, and then remembering how and where to move on stage is even more difficult. The young actors in the ACT production do it with nary a flub.
Some of the young actors need to be particularly complimented.
Josiah Ruiz, a seventh grader at Archbold, is the show’s villain, Scar, the brother of Mufasa, the king of the pride lands, and uncle to Simba, Mufasa’s son and future king.
Ruiz physically towers over most of the cast, which falls in with Scar being a powerful lion.
Scar is supposed to be an evil, conniving creature, and Ruiz’s portrayal doesn’t fall short.
Timon and Pumbaa is a comedic pair. They’re played by Emma Bailey, a fifth grade student from Tinora, and Joshua Reeb, a fifth grader at Archbold.
Bailey and Reeb play well off one another. Their comedic timing is great, and both give life to their characters.
Scar has three somewhat bumbling evil hyena henchmen: Banzai, played by Gage Nafziger, an Archbold third grader, Shenzi, played by Tessa Nafziger, a fifth grader from Archbold, and Ed, played by Elsie Mello, an Archbold fourth grader.
All three have funny roles, but it’s Ed– who appears to be completely unhinged– who’s the funniest. Ed laughs; the audience laughs.
“The Lion King Jr.” was sold out opening night, and the house was full the second night.
There are three more chances to see the show; Friday and Saturday, Oct. 6- 7, at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, Oct. 8, at 2:30 pm, at Giffey Hall in the Ridgeville Corners Theatre District.–David Pugh