CES Stages “Disney’s The Lion King JR.” with Helping Hands from CHS Students
In the first Cheltenham Elementary play in many years, CES students brought the African savannah to life with past week with dazzling singing and dancing in the classic coming-of-age tale “Disney’s The Lion King JR.”
The cast included Kayliegh Frank, Mariah Jean, Lillian Henderson, Genevieve Jean and Leydicia Renois (Rafikis); Kennedi Robinson (Mufasa); Angelica Fernandez (Sarabi); Ariana Hughes (Zazu); Alyssa Burgos (Scar); Nylah Raymond (Young Simba); Carmelo Stevens (Simba); Amerie Holston (Young Nala); Kennedy Gray (Nala); Milan Brooks (Banzai); Dai’Osha Stevens (Shenzi); Annabel Larkin (Ed); Noelle Bailey, Emma Frank, Jayleila Daniel, Monet Harris (Hyenas); Emily Hoffman (Timon); Sheila Abdul (Pumbaa); and Gabby Ether, Kevin Floyd, Naomi Henderson, Ava Henry, Cora Hummel, Ben Keyser, Lia Rodriquez, Paige Sammin and Eloisa Woodyard (Ensemble). Autumn Boyd, Layla Isaac, Alex Karras, Tyler Peterson comprised the stage crew.
Kindergarten teacher Maura Matthews served as the play sponsor, while CHS senior Jordan Hood (producer) and a handful of CHS students ran the production, including junior Stefan Rogowski (director), junior Gabby Carty (director/choreographer) and sophomores Maddie Conwell and Raina Miller (assistant music directors).
This past spring, Hood approached Wyncote and Cheltenham Elementary Schools about staging productions, and a grant from the Cheltenham School District Foundation made the idea come to fruition. As CES was ramping up its production, Wyncote was staging its own production, “The Jungle Book KIDS” with assistance from CHS junior Melaina Kuhl and senior Roy Nussbaum.
Hood’s intent in bringing theater to the two elementary schools was to nurture the talents of coming-of-age children, while enriching them socially, emotionally, physically and creatively and providing an environment in which they can showcase their talents as they display a collaborative effort.
“Theater has been such a big part of all of the production team’s lives,” Hood said, “and we wanted to give Cheltenham students for years to come the chance to be more than just students, the chance to be performers.”