StageDoor Kids tell about the circle of life in ‘The Lion King Kids’

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By Penny Randell

StageDoor Theatre presents “The Lion King Kids” beginning Thursday and running for eight performances.
This time the musical is comprised of two casts, each with second- to fifth-grade students. The Mimics and the Troupers each perform four shows.
It was June of 1994 when Walt Disney first released “The Lion King.” Critics heralded it from the start and praised it for its music, story and animation. The film won two Academy Awards for its music and a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture.
“This is exactly the same story as the original but tailored to meet the needs of kids,” director Ren Manley said. “It’s shorter, and there aren’t as many lines, puppets or props. It’s more about the kids telling the story than what you would see on a larger stage.”
Manley said as a director he needed to deal with explaining to the kids about the Lion King’s death, saying: “The kids understand all the play’s theories and convictions, but more in a storybook way. After the Lion King is killed by his jealous younger brother, the king is then held high as an eternal spirit to watch over his son Simba and the rest of the pride.”
Manley says it’s a wonderful challenge to direct such young minds. The kids are taught respect above all else.
“There are kids in the performance that have been in productions for three years now,” she said. “They seem to help corral the younger ones. But most essential are the lessons on listening and watching as each delivers lines and while blocking is executed. They achieve respect, and I’m so proud of each and every one of them.”  
Manley takes charge of the kids who bring their talent, hopes and dreams to the stage.
“After all, these are the ones that will hopefully love the theater and keep it alive as it promotes their own personal growth,” she said.