Lion King, Jr. delights

By Michael Charter

The Milan Middle School cast and crew performed the American favorite stage play based on the Disney movie, The Lion King. The elaborate set and costumes showcased the crew and cast’s spirit. The performance of this well rehearsed musical was met with style and conviction by the Milan Middle School troop.
With conviction, the students, parents and staff managed time for the months of practicing lines, constructing the set and finalizing details such as wardrobe and props. “The costumes were rented from a middle school in Coal City, Illinois, over 300 miles away.” The director Carolyn Wetzler commented “we took a van, but the costumes were so bulky we needed to make a second trip.” Many outfits were complete, but alterations and adjustments to the wardrobe were still a large undertaking. Well over 50 students helped out and practiced three days a week since the first of the year. Prior to formal practice in October, try-outs took place; this gave the actors a chance to memorize the music for this play. The Lion King was newly available this year through Musical International. Musical International takes the Broadway version, which has more numbers and a longer dialog, and shortens the play into a more comprehensive junior production.
This junior production of The Lion King stars Simba, greatly portrayed by both Michele Carey (as the naive lion cub) and Lucas Barron (as the older but yet youthful lion king). The story of this lion’s journey to adulthood is met with sabotage by his uncle Scar played by Mackenzie Kerns. Mackenzie, involved with the middle school’s theater for a second year, tried out with Scar in mind. When asked, “why Scar?” she said, “I thought it was a very unique part and in order to have a story, there has to be a bad guy, or conflict. It was great to be able to tell that part of the story.” Kerns really enjoys being part of the show, saying “you really build a family and get to know a lot more people; its just a great community to be part of.”
A new friendly face to the Milan Middle School community is Kaitlyn Kornacki, who played Mufasa. Kaitlyn transferred to Milan from East Arbor Academy this year. “After hearing from my friends that Milan was doing the Lion King, I really wanted to try out for the play. I just wanted to be part of it. The instructors said I did really well, so I got the part of Mufasa.” Kaitlyn also voiced that she was very grateful for all the help of the parents. They really helped to bring the production to fruition.
The year 2016 saw another great production from the Milan Middle School’s theater program. Director Carolyn Wetzler feels this will be her last year and is passing the torch onto another generation. Her devotion and skills will be missed as well as Music Director Debra Nichols. Wetzler voiced her fondness for the theater and a great 20 years of memories working with the youth that has passed through the doors of Milan schools.

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