The ensemble performs "Grasslands".
The ensemble performs "Grasslands". (Phil Grout/for Carroll County Ti / Carroll County Times)

The young actors of Spotlight Musical Theatre will explore the themes of family, loss, friendship and storytelling as they present the “The Lion King Jr” this weekend.

The show is a shorter version of the beloved and long-running Broadway musical.

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“This is a great junior version. It's very true to the full story and easy to follow,” said director Julia Cowles.

The performances will take place Saturday and Sunday, June 8 and 9 at the at the Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main Street, Westminster. They will perform two shows per day, at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for children younger than 18. Audience members age 3 and younger are three.

Tickets for the junior showcase, taking place both days at 3:45 p.m. are $10. This is a shortened selection of scenes and songs from the show performed by the younger actors of Spotlight. Tickets are available at www.spotlightmusicalsmtairy.com/tickets.

The lionesses are on their hunt..
The lionesses are on their hunt.. (Phil Grout/for Carroll County Ti / Carroll County Times)

Spotlight’s casts of elementary and middle school actors have been working since February to put the production together. They practice every Sunday.

Cowles said the show includes all of the familiar songs that are the highlight of the Disney movie, including music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice. The script itself is a good balance for the actors and audience members.

“It’s very much a balance of sad and very strong emotional parts, and then you'll get a nice little comic relief moment here and there. And then some parts where you'll just be crying because listening to it is so beautiful. I mean, who doesn't cry when they hear ‘Circle of Life?’” she asked.

The plains of Africa are coming to life on the Arts Center stage.
The plains of Africa are coming to life on the Arts Center stage. (Phil Grout/for Carroll County Ti / Carroll County Times)

Spotlight is split into two groups; the junior cast which caters to performers aged 4 to 9 and the senior group which takes actors 9 and older. There are 51 seniors and 35 juniors for this show.

The show hopes to transport visitors to the Pride Lands in Africa through the costumes and sets. The costumes, which they rented for this production are each unique. There are differences between each individual zebra and hyena, Cowles said. Each character has a full face o makeup to transform the actor. For the setting, they built their own Pride Rock.

“It really is just such an out out-of-the-box experience. It's such a spectacle,” Cowles said.

The ensemble performs "Grasslands".
The ensemble performs "Grasslands". (Phil Grout/for Carroll County Ti / Carroll County Times)

The messages in the show will hit home for child and adult audiences alike, she said.

“Simba’s journey is really fun to watch, especially for little kids, because you see him as this really excited little thing bouncing around the stage. And he's really confident. He's like, ‘I'm going to be the King of Pride Rock.” And then tragedy hits and you have to watch him cope with that. … And I think the the overarching theme of legacy is really beautiful in this show. That'll connect not just to kids, but adults, too. How important your family is, and knowing your past, but also not letting your past define you too much.”

Those who wish to participate in a future Spotlight production can find information at www.spotlightmusicalsmtairy.com or by calling 301-252-0112.

The hyenas surround Scar, Landon Black.
The hyenas surround Scar, Landon Black. (Phil Grout/for Carroll County Ti / Carroll County Times)
Rafiki, Becca Harvey, sings her opening number during a final rehearsal of "The Lion King Jr."
Rafiki, Becca Harvey, sings her opening number during a final rehearsal of "The Lion King Jr." (Phil Grout/for Carroll County Ti / Carroll County Times)
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