When Austin Sa first got on stage at the Warren-Prescott, it wasn’t something he really ever expected to do. Playing a small role as a seahorse in the W-P’s production of ‘The Little Mermaid’ some years ago, he was nervous, but he delivered his line, and it ignited the theatre bug in the young man.
Now an eighth-grader at the W-P, Sa will have one of the leads as Musafa in this weekend’s production of The Lion King – the annual winter play put on by the W-P and Music Director Olivia Thompson. The play will be open to the public for three performances: Friday (March 9) at 7 p.m.; Saturday (March 10) at 2 p.m.; and Sunday (March 11) at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12.50.
“I remember my first play; I was so nervous,” said Sa this week. “But it’s an amazing thing to be able to go out to the audience and show them this amazing story. The adrenaline gets going, and you go from real life to this whole other world you’re in that you are sharing with the audience. I definitely hope to continue in theatre. If I did not have Ms. Thompson and the Warren-Prescott, I would definitely not be where I am. I doubt I would have discovered this. It’s unfortunate how many other schools don’t have this amazing performance theatre and program.”
For Thompson, this is yet another in a string of plays that she – with the full support of Principal Michele Davis and an army of parent volunteers – has put on. Last year, they put on ‘Hairspray,’ and before that the program produced ‘Annie’ and ‘The Little Mermaid,’ among others.
Thompson said she drew her inspiration for this year’s production due to a trip to Africa she took earlier in the school year with her mother. Using the sights and sounds of her experiences on safari in Africa, she came back with a lot of inspiration and buy-in from the students.
“I was really surprised by it because I always thought this show might too hard for us,” she said. “I thought the music might be too hard. However, it’s been a lovely show to work on. It’s been great for the students, and the message is great and the kids have gotten a lot out of it.”
Thompson said there is some “new blood” in the production this year too, with about 70 kids participating either in assigned parts or in the chorus. Students in the school have rallied tremendously, but an army of parent volunteers have really stepped up.
“We’ve always had great parent involvement, but this year the group of parents rallied and really stepped up for us,” she said. “They have gone above and beyond , and we’ve had an army of volunteers and that’s been lovely.”
She said parents like Shannon Fitzgerald and Abby Belge have done amazing work on the costumes and coordination, to name but a few.
A unique part of the show will be the masks that are homemade and a key part of the production.
“We had to make all of these masks here,” Thompson said. “You can’t go out and buy things like this. They have to be made. You have to be creative with that, but I happen to love that part of the production. When else are you going to have to figure out how to attaché a papier-mache mask to a student’s head?”
“The Lion King” will play all weekend in the auditorium at the Warren-Prescott School on School Street.