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Funded by the CNY Arts Regrants Program, this production was dedicated to Brexialee Torres-Ortiz

Music by Elton John

Lyrics by Tim Rice




February 9 – 11, 2023

SALTSpace Studios

Syracuse, NY

Presented by Thanasis Theatre Company



Rafiki – Ne'Kayvia Bethea


Mufasa/Simba – Malichi Simmons


Sarafina/Nala – Sophia Pierce


Sarabi – Jaden Hanniford


Zazu – Kate Fennessy

Scar – Tyren Johnson


Young Simba – Jojo Harper-McNeal


Young Nala – Aurora Davis


Shenzi* – Jewel Pierce/Sophia Furnell-Wick

Banzai – Micah Jones

Ed – Charlotte Halverson

Timon – Makayla Halverson


Pumbaa – Cartel Oliver

*Jewel played Shenzi on 2/10 and 2/11 (7pm)

*Sophia played Shenzi on 2/9 and 2/11 (3pm)





Directors – Jordan Westfall & Mookey Van Orden

Music Director – Ben Borenstein

Asst. Music Director – Tyler Eighmey

Choreographer – Dominique Barr

Producer – Blondean Young

Costumes – Sonya & Lorenza Mangovski

Masks – Debra Ritchey, CNY Costumes

Lighting Design – Audrey Flynn

Sound Design – Isaac Betters & Trillium Holsopple

Makeup – Destynee Raines

Photography – Lauren Sageer & Morgan Williamson


Fight Choreography – Mookey Van Orden

Set Construction – Phillip Fraser

Set Design – Kristin Palazzoli & Harper Park

Special Thanks to The Central Valley Boys & Girls Club, The Community Folk Arts Center, Cicero-North Syracuse High School, and all of the parents who've made this production possible! 




Admittedly, when I first set out to mount a show that was multi-generational in nature, my idea was not that of a Jr. production, much less a Disney Jr. production. However, through trial and error (i.e. being denied rights for a different, non-Broadway Junior title), it seemed as though Lion King was the best fit for our creative team as a whole for the desired timing of the project. 

What's more, as our creative team came to learn – immediately after acquiring the rights to Lion King Jr. – there was another production of this show happening in Syracuse just months before us, in the fall of 2022 at a high school nearby. A production, I might add, that exemplified what is still very wrong with theatre in Syracuse, at both the local and educational levels. 

What I mean to say is: a production that was entirely white; without any sort of ethical, or logical basis in reality as it pertains to the story and setting of the show.  

Ergo, Thanasis' doing Lion King was correct after all. 

Even more importantly, our production was special and worthwhile and absolutely cherished by every parent, child and artist involved, to the point that the show was completely sold out for all four of its performances, and Standing Room Only had to be employed. 

I am thankful to the Central Valley Boys and Girls Club for allowing us to rehearse there for the bulk of our process; to the Community Folk Arts Center for also providing us a home; to Kim Panek at Cicero-North Syracuse High School for always lending a hand; and to my beautiful, brilliant Co-Director Mookey, and our incredible choreographer Dominique – thank you both for coming on board and having the experience necessary to lead these children to success.


(inclduing Directors' Note)

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