Due to calendar constraints, EIC’s secondary production this year took place from the 21st to 23rd November, also allowing for an extra performance to be added on Saturday. After much discussion over the summer break, Miss Jackson and myself decided it was time to bring to the EIC stage the award-winning musical ‘The Lion King’. We knew this would not be an easy undertaking but were ready for the challenge of creating the visual spectacle that is associated with the West-End and Broadway versions. Work began straight away as we returned in September, with our biggest ever number of auditionees.
After the hard task of casting, rehearsals at lunchtime, after school and week-ends quickly got underway as our 7 week schedule began. Our stage was transformed into the African Savanna where Simba, an adventurous and energetic lion cub is next in line to be king of the Pride Lands. When Simba’s father Mufasa is killed by his uncle Scar, Simba is led to believe that his father’s death is his fault, and he is encouraged to run away forever. The Pride Lands experience a darkness and desolation from which only Simba can save the animals of the kingdom. The Lion King is a story and a musical about identity, family, and responsibility that is enjoyed worldwide by people of all ages. Our principal characters, Young and Adult Simba (Adam and Charlie), Scar (Alex), Mufasa (Paulo), Zazu (Freddie), Rafiki (Lola), Timon and Pumbaa (Julian and Pelayo), gave spectacular performances and were supported by an equally outstanding cast who gave memorable portrayals including the 4 hyenas (Caitlin, Erika, Lucia and Olivia), Young and Adult Nala (Paula and Elena), Sarabi (Eva) and Sarafina (Aisha). They were aided by a fantastic and beautifully sounding animal ensemble of Year 7 to 9 students, led by Scarlett whose gorgeous voice was showcased during Shadowlands.
This year’s set deign was another stunning multipurpose backdrop (designed by Miss Jackson and executed by herself and Mr Dagnall) that consisted of the breathtaking African Savanna, the desert wasteland, Pride Rock and caves and waterfalls that made you feel as though you had been transported right into the African Jungle. Every year Miss Jackson’s vision and ability to create such magnificent sets from our stage leaves us all in awe. Costumes and make-up are crucial to the visual aspect of the Lion King and Miss Jackson and Mr Dagnall, supported by our fantastically talented Year 13 student, Liubava, spent almost 15 hours over the 3 days transforming all 29 students into such detailed lions, birds, elephants, flamingos and gazelles from the animal kingdom, that teachers and parents alike found it difficult to recognise who was who! With unforgettable musical numbers such as “Circle of Life,” “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King,” “Hakuna Matata,” “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” and “He Lives In You,” sound, vocal and arrangements were prepared and implemented by Miss Child with some exquisite solos and whole cast numbers that had people asking if professional recordings were being used which is a real testament to the development of our students’ singing over the last two years.
Lastly, a slick and fabulous backstage crew led by Miss Hessian ensured that scene changes were quick and seamless. Audience members were entertained for over 2 hours by 29 talented, dedicated and wonderful students from KS3 and KS4 who sang, danced and acted as if they had been performing every night on a professional stage! Their talent, commitment, hard work, and time and effort over the last 7 weeks was clearly visible across three fantastic sold out performances that had every audience member standing, dancing and applauding as the cast yet again highlighted just how incredible the students at EIC are. Every year, they rise to the occasion and set the bar even higher with their incredible performances and accomplishments. We would like to congratulate each and everyone of them for making this Lion King journey a real pleasure and honour. The Expressive Arts department are immensely proud of what they have achieved. A huge “thank you” to everyone who was involved or supported in any way and copies of the show will be on sale in reception shortly!