By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
'The Lion King' ready for spotlight at MMS
Maddison Markham, as young Simba, and Kaitlyn Elgin, as young Nala, sing during a dress rehearsal of "The Lion King" at Monroe Middle School on Monday. Performances of the musical will be at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Admission is a free-will donation. To order either of these photos, click here. (Times photos: Marissa Weiher)
MONROE - Hakuna Matata means "no worries," and the Monroe Middle School students putting on their latest musical hope they can embrace the easygoing mantra for the rest of their days as they prepare for performances this week.

Lance Smith, co-director of the production of the "Lion King," said the aim of the show is to once again put on an entertaining evening of Disney tunes for the audience.

"In the last couple of years we did "The Little Mermaid' and "The Beauty and the Beast' and it goes over so well when the audience knows the songs and everything is so familiar," Smith said. "The kids love it. They love being able to show what they can do. Everybody is excited when they talk about it."

Dress rehearsals this week have gone well, the co-director added. Smith said each member of the cast has shown their talent, and that they just can't wait to be king of the stage Thursday night. However, he added that the troupe will have to be prepared if they hope to put on a flawless performance juggling different masks and sharing wireless microphones while standing in the spotlight.

"This group of kids we have this year, I've never seen anything like it," Smith said. "They ask a lot of really good questions. It's complicated choreography, and they're doing very well. As long as we can keep the tech working I think it will be really successful."

The ensemble will put on two shows for fellow students Wednesday morning and afternoon. A show will be open to the general public at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Admission is a free-will donation.

Cast members are hopeful they can enjoy the peace the evening brings after a successful show by also raising funds to replace the heavy black curtains along the stage. Smith guessed the partitions have been in place since the 1970s and, although useful, need to face their circle of life by being replaced with new ones. A replacement is not inexpensive: The last estimate the group received two years ago was $9,000. Donations from shows purchase scripts, equipment such as new microphones, and hopefully a shiny new era of stage curtains.