The stage show hit The Lion King Jr may be done and dusted for Cambridge Middle School, but it’s just getting started at the Clarence St Theatre this weekend.
An all-youth cast from Cambridge, Hamilton and Morrinsville will star in the production by Tumeke Performing Arts Company, including Cambridge’s very own Olivia McFetridge starring as Nala and Saoirse Herewini as Sarafina.
It’s a bizzare case of de ja vu for Saoirse, a Year 8 student at Cambridge Middle School which did The Lion King Jr for their school production earlier this month.
“It’s two different takes on the same movie,” she said. “The (school version) was good. This one is beautiful.”
Having played the piano with the school band in the CMS production, Saoirse was excited to have a more hands-on role in the show performing this weekend at the Clarence St Theatre.
For Olivia McFetridge it’s her first time playing a lead role, and an exciting opportunity at that.
“I just thought I could do it this time,” she shrugged, having played smaller roles in Annie and Aladin at the Riverlea Theatre. “It’s been really fun to be performing from that perspective. I haven’t really had any trouble with learning the lines.”
The Year 9 Cambridge High School student is also playing a zebra, hyena and lioness in the first act of the show, and said working with the 22-person crew had been a big highlight.
Director Travis Maclennan said the young actors working on the show had all done an exceptional job.
“The kids have done a really good job of bringing to life on stage the character that you already know from the movie – Timone actually sounds like Timone, Pumba is just like Pumba, they’re really cleaver.”
“We really like working with kids, they’re great, they’re all like sponges and they offer ideas and input which is quite cool.
“They just totally come alive on stage and show you a different side of themselves, and that’s what’s really cool about this programme and working with them, they’re developing confidence.”
He described the show as a condensed version of the Broadway musical, and said they jumped at the opportunity to bring it to the Hamilton stage when it became available at the end of last year.
“We were one of the lucky ones that was able to do it.
“It’s quite a quick show but a very good one, and you get so invested in the characters because you know the characters already.”
“It’s an amazing show,” Olivia added. “We’ve been working really hard to put it together.”
Both Olivia and Saoirse hoped to see Cambridge locals turn out to the show, which is on this Friday and Saturday only, playing at 2pm and 7pm both days. Tickets are available through Ticketek or at www.clarencesttheatre.co.nz/events.