Lake Nona Middle School will perform Lion King Jr. on Friday, May 13, and Saturday, May 14, at 7 p.m. at the Lake Nona High School Auditorium.
Directed by drama teacher Brandon Yagel, the play will be the largest Lake Nona Middle School has ever offered, with 35 student actors and 25 student crew members.
According to playbill.com, Lion King Jr. has been available to license for a little over a year. In theatre terms, that is relatively new. Mr. Yagel jumped at the opportunity, knowing the popularity of the full-scale Lion King production. The show is available to license only in the Junior or Kids format, which means only certain middle and elementary schools are able to purchase the rights to perform the show. In order to see the full-scale version, it must be on Broadway in New York or with the Broadway touring company (neither will come through Orlando any time soon).
I spoke to seventh-grader Diana Mukoie-Carcamo, who is playing the role of Rafiki. She came from North Lake Park and was a member of the chorus there. Her role is one of the most important in the play. According to Mr. Yagel, he has directed it so it has an intimate feel as Rafiki tells the story of the Lion King. It is Diana’s first time doing theatre, but she’s been singing since first grade. She’s excited about performing and is looking forward to bringing newness to the role.
I also spoke to Paige Becwar, a seventh grader who is one of the two stage managers. She was a student at Moss Park and was a Moss Park Player as well. Paige has performed and worked backstage. She says she likes both. “As a stage manager, I see everything, all the details. As a performer, I focus on the character’s details. There is a lot of running as a stage manager, but both are equally fulfilling.”
Mr. Yagel is a local “Orlandian,” having performed with the Orlando Repertory Theatre and the Orlando Youth Theatre. He has a theatre degree from the University of Florida as well as a Master’s Degree from UCF in Theatre for Young Audiences. Mr. Yagel has a strong vision and is able to motivate and direct his young cast well.
For tickets, make sure to check out LNMS.booktix.com.