By Judy Garrison

Charmed audience members were thrust into the rhythms of tribal Africa on Friday and Saturday evenings, November 8th and 9th. The ACS cast of all ages brought Disney’s “The Lion King” to life, replete with its African sounds and sights. The costumes, including life-sized masks, were both gorgeous and authentic-looking. The set design, with its evocative nature paintings and the moving cut-outs of zebras and other animals from the savanna, was spot-on. Credit art teacher, Sharon Tucker, and Katie Edelson and crew for all the heaps of creative work it clearly took to get this so right.

The chanting and singing—some, I take it, in Swahili—was performed with polished flair. Lila Green wowed us with her solo modern dance, upping the atmosphere still further. In fact, all of the dance and movements were beautifully rendered. Enthusiastic good acting abounded, too, from the hyenas, to the lioness and accompanying small animals to Rubiki—played behind a huge elaborate mask by Dusty Richards-Consigny—to the young and old versions of Simba and Nala. Standout performances I caught were Lea Edelson as Scar whose tone and body language made vivid the duplicitousness of Scar’s stolen reign as king. James Camuti’s high-energy physical comedy as Timon delighted as he played off Brandon Barrett’s Mufasa.

Harli Mahon, who designed and made all the drama club shirts for this musical, was acknowledged on the program.  John Bernhardt presented a special award to the person not on the program most helpful to the production. Boisterous applause erupted when Jan Stevens was called forward to accept this award.

This was my first exposure to “The Lion King.” I had hoped to see it on Broadway ever since my kids’ childhood friend from Treadwell, Jason Raize, played Simba in one of the earliest productions. I was so pleased to witness this exuberant version here in Andes~