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A royal mess

South Boston News
Ryan Crawford, Halle Beadles, and Mallory Spainhour all portray part of the royalty and its entourage in Halifax County Little Theatre’s production of Disney’s “Lion King Jr.” The show opens April 20 for two weekends at The Prizery. Call 434-572-8339 for tickets or go to prizery.com. Not pictured is Aaron Hendricks.
SoVaNow.com / April 12, 2018

Usually, it’s good to be the king. You get attention, others wanting to please you, and the best home. However, there is the other side to the king: jealous siblings, false praise, and assassins.

Yikes.

And that is exactly what one will find in Halifax County Little Theatre’s “Lion King Jr.”

Mufasa, the King of the Lions, is trying to raise his son Simba to be the next king, assigning him a protective hornbill bird, Zazu, who is the guardian of young Simba.

However, there is also Scar, a mean, jealous, clever, and controlling brother of Mufasa. And he wants to be the king too. Clearly, however, there can only be one king.

Such is the story of “Lion King Jr,” the Disney musical that has won the hearts of millions over the years, with the stage and movie versions and sequels of the story.

This popular musical, directed by Devin Hall, opens next week on Friday, April 20, at 7:30 p.m. on the Prizery stage.

Helping to tell the story is Rafiki, a wise prophetic mandrill, who is Mufasa’s advisor. He is playful, exuberant, and helps to welcome the newborn lion cub to the African veldt.

These four characters, along with the lion cub Simba, are the focus of Disney’s “Lion King Jr.” Viewers will get to meet King Mufasa (Mallory Spainhour), his evil brother Scar (Halle Beadles), the protective Zazu (Aaron Hendricks), and the wise Rafiki (Ryan Crawford).

Simba is portrayed by two actors, the younger version of Simba (Carrington Thackston) and the grownup Simba (Luke McKinney).

The story opens with Rafiki calling all the animals to come see the newborn lion cub, the future King of the African grasslands. Portraying Rafiki is the theatre-wise Ryan Crawford, 13, who is a seventh-grade student at Sacred Heart Catholic School.

A veteran of the stage at just 13, Crawford has been in Little Theatre and Prizery performances for years, playing lead roles in “Oliver” and “Jackie & Me,” and supporting roles in many others, including “Les Misérables,” “Charlotte’s Web,” and much more.

Yet Crawford is also a star in other ways, earning straight A’s in school and competing in history and spelling competitions. He came in second in the Charlotte, N.C., regional competition for the History Bee and qualified for nationals, but the national competition conflicts with the Scripps National Spelling Bee, that Ryan also qualified for as the Danville champion. He will be back in Washington, DC, the week of May 27 to compete in his second national spelling competition.

King Mufasa is played by Spainhour, a seventh-grade student at Halifax Christian School. Spainhour has proven herself on stage in “Elf, Jr,” and the Prizery’s production of “The Miracle Worker” last October. She says, “I love being social and meeting other people, and I am passionate about theatre. I really enjoy singing, dancing, and any kind of the arts. Lion King Jr., has such an amazing crew and such talented actors. We are all a big family.” Spainhour is also involved with the Awanas at Scottsburg Baptist Church.

Mufasa’s evil brother Scar is portrayed by Beadles, a sixth-grade student at Halifax County Middle School. Beadles was in last fall’s “Miracle on 34th Street” and enjoys the ability to be with her friends and make new ones that being in theatre productions affords. In addition to theatre productions, Beadles is also a member of the middle school band.

The fourth member of the royal entourage is the Zazu, the loyal attendant of Mufasa who helps to watch Simba. Little Theatre veteran Hendricks portrays the hornbill bird who tries to protect Simba from the world around him.

Hendricks is well-known to Little Theatre audiences, having appeared in multiple productions the past few years, including “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963,” “Elf Jr,” “Jackie & Me,” the Prizery’s “The Miracle Worker,” and more. He enjoys making friends with the other cast members, saying, “Being in a show is a good friend-making experience, as well as a chance to experience the arts.”

Hendricks is also a band member at HCMS, playing percussion, and is also an ACE team member and a straight-A student in the seventh grade.

Plan to check out the royalty and their entourage when “Lion King Jr” opens next weekend. The show runs Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. at The Prizery and repeats the same show times the following weekend.

Tickets can be purchased at http://www.prizery.com, by calling The Prizery at 434-572-8339, or by going to the Visitors Center on 58 West.



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