"Hakuna Matata!" Key Stage 2 Host Roarsome 'The Lion King' Spectacular!
Key Stage 2 enthralled, captivated and astounded us all towards the climax of another highly unusual school year with four absolutely ROARSOME performances of classic Disney tale 'The Lion King'!
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this was the first Key Stage 2 summer production to be staged outdoors, and for the first time since the Class 2 rainforest assembly held at the end of February last year (yes, it's really been that long!), we were FINALLY able to welcome socially-distanced groups of parents on to the school grounds to watch this African spectacular, as well as giving a dress rehearsal to the rest of the school and a further performance to our little neighbours over at Jack-in-the-Box Nursery!
The story began with a rousing rendition of Circle of Life as all the animals from the Pride Lands of Africa gathered around Pride Rock to witness Simba (Swahili for 'lion') being raised aloft by the shaman baboon Rafiki in a ceremony celebrating the fact that he would be the next in line to rule the Pride Lands as the son of King Mufasa and Queen Sarabi.
We were then introduced to the villainous Scar, brother of Mufasa and a wicked lion filled with jealousy over the fact that he would have been heir to the throne of the Pride Lands had Simba not been born. Keen to get rid of his young nephew so that he can become King himself, he tricks Simba into visiting a forbidden elephant graveyard.
The next day, Sarabi allows Simba and his best friend Nala to go exploring, but only if they are accompanied by Mufasa's wise yet rather pompous and irritating advisor Zazu the hornbill. The lion cubs, against Zazu's wishes of course, go exploring in the elephant graveyard, where they are ambushed by the three hyenas Shenzi, Banzai and the loveably dim-witted Ed.
Fortunately, Mufasa arrives just in the nick of time to save the cubs and return them to Pride Rock. Scar is annoyed at his carnivorian friends for failing to make Simba and Nala their next lunches, but, after throwing them a macabre dead zebra (or is that 'zee-bra'?) to feed on, the evil scheming lion promises them that he has a new plan for them to rule the Pride Lands together to a rallying cry of Be Prepared.
Back at Pride Rock, Mufasa is disappointed at his son for disobeying his orders and visiting forbidden lands, but realizes that Simba only wanted to prove himself and be as strong and brave as his father. Mufasa explains to Simba that he is only brave and strong when he needs to be, taught to him by the great kings of the past who watch over them from the night sky. He also tells Simba that one day, he himself will watch over him to keep him safe and ensure that he fulfils his destiny (foreshadowing, foreshadowing!).
Scar then puts his master plan to do away with both Mufasa and Simba into operation. He encourages Simba to practise his roaring in the valley, before instructing the hyenas to frighten the neighbouring huge herd of wildebeest into a massive stampede, straight towards poor Simba!
Mufasa manages to rescue his son from the stampede, but on climbing up a cliff to try and reach safety himself, who does he find but his wicked brother waiting for him at the top!
"Long live the king!" the wicked lion snarls as the king's fate is all but sealed, being hurled by his vengeful brother to his death in amongst the rampaging animals below (those with a sensitive disposition should look away now - sob!).
In scenes which surely never left a dry eye on the playground regardless of the audience, the devastated Simba then laments the passing of his brave dad, wracked with guilt that his roar apparently caused the stampede which killed him. Indeed, in the deathly silence which follows, Scar himself emerges from the shadows, informing Simba that, sure enough, the young cub was responsible for the king's death, and that he now must run away... never to return!
Simba follows his uncle's advice, completely unaware that Scar was actually responsible for the murder of his father. Shenzi, Banzai and Ed are instructed by Scar to follow Simba and kill him, but the cowardly hyenas soon give up the chase, believing that Simba will not last long on his own out in the wilderness.
Indeed, the poor young lion cub would have surely been eaten by vultures in the desert after collapsing from dehydration, but luckily, he was found and saved by fan-favourite comedy duo Timon the meerkat and Pumba the warthog.
After a brief backstory and a spot of Pavarotti from Pumba ("When I was a young warthoooooggggg!"), the jungle duo take Simba under their wing/paws/trotters and invite him to their lush rainforest home, teaching him their carefree ways of swinging on vines, feasting on the kind of grub eaten by Z-list celebrities on a certain ITV reality show featuring a Geordie duo, and, above all, learning to live by the problem-free motto of "HAKUNA MATATA!" ('no worries' in Swahili, quiz fans).
(For the purposes of the plot, the fact that Simba actually has rather good reason to be concerned and worried after believing himself to be responsible for his father's death, witnessing his father's tragic demise right in front of him and having an uncle who wants to kill him by sending a group of bloodthirsty hyenas after him can, on this occasion be brushed under the carpet. One could also argue that Simba, being a carnivore and obviously starving during this part of the story should have really eaten both Timon and Pumba at this point, but again, the plot.)
Back at Pride Rock, things really aren't so happy, carefree and hakuna matata-ish as Sarabi, Nala, the rest of the lionesses, Zazu and Rafiki mourn both Mufasa's death and the disappearance of Simba, only for Scar to rise up and declare himself King, ruling the Pride Lands in partnership with his horde of hyena followers. Understandably, Nala isn't too keen on being Scar's Queen, giving a truly beautiful and confident rendition of Shadowland before planning to escape from Pride Rock to find help.
Three years later (and with Timon and Pumba seemingly not ageing at all but yeah, the plot), a grown-up Simba, complete with dashing mane, is relaxing in the jungle under the night sky with his two new friends. Pointing to the stars (and not the overhead aircraft which we didn't remember seeing in the original Disney film), Timon and Pumba guffaw at Simba's suggestion that the lights in the sky are actually past kings looking down on earth as Mufasa had told him, but the meerkat and warthog's laughter is short-lived when the following day, they are attacked in the jungle by a lioness!
To Simba's shock, the lioness turns out to none other than an adult Nala, and although the two reconcile with a lovely rendition of Can You Feel the Love Tonight (with added hand gel of course - sign of the times), Nala remains disappointed that Simba has run away and refuses to return to fight for his home and claim his rightful place as King of the Pride Lands.
That night however, Rafiki, on learning that Simba is still alive, tracks him down and leads him to a pool of water. Simba remarks that all he can see is a reflection of himself, despite Rafiki pointing out that Mufasa very much lives on in him. Suddenly, an apparition of the former King himself appears in the sky, instructing Simba that he is the true King and must return home to claim his place in the great Circle of Life.
After some further harsh yet fair Yoda-style encouragement and philosophy from Rafiki (the young actor playing Rafiki remarked in his Year 6 memories after the show that he was glad that he got the part of the baboon rather than the part of Mufasa that he originally auditioned for, as it gave him the chance to hit one of his classmates with a big stick), Simba decides to follow his destiny and return to the Pride Lands to challenge Scar for the throne.
Simba wasn't alone however in this daunting task however, with Nala at his side as well as Timon and Pumba loyally offering their services to their new friend. They soon ventured back to a Pride Rock which appeared to have suffered a strange sudden complete ecological collapse due to his departure and the death of Mufasa under the new rule of Scar and the lazy greedy hyenas, but again let's go with it - it's Disney.
Timon and Pumba dress up as hula dancers (of course) in order to distract the pack of hyenas guarding the rock, allowing Simba to move in and challenge his uncle. With Sarabi and the lionesses thrilled and amazed to see Simba back let alone alive, an equally-surprised Scar soon recovers his composure after exchanging an angry glance at the hyenas and forces Simba to confess that HE killed Mufasa.
Still believing that he was responsible, Simba admits to the crime much to the utter shock of his mother and the other lionesses. Scar corners Simba but in a moment of misjudged egotism, the cruel lion confesses that it was actually HE who murdered the King. Enraged, Simba overpowers his uncle and forces him to confess the truth. Scar, realizing his mistake, then tries to place the blame on the hyenas, with this slip also backfiring on him big time as Shenzi, Banzai and Ed all hear the accusation, prompting them to chase the wicked self-proclaimed King out of the Pride Lands forever.
The Disney films have portrayed the hyenas, starving hungry after the famine which had hit Pride Rock as ripping Scar to shreds following his betrayal, but due to the 'U' nature of Bosbury School's performance, we didn't deem this interpretation of the conclusion of the story appropriate. Also, it wouldn't have been very fair on the extremely talented young lady playing the villain after giving such a deliciously wicked and utterly superb performance as the main antagonist.
Simba then took his place as the true King, producing a new heir to the throne with Nala, once again held aloft on Pride Rock by Rafiki as the (imaginary) curtain came down on such a remarkable performance, with the cast even giving professional bows to a magical ensemble of the production's best-known songs.
It was then time for Simba and Nala to wave goodbye to huge cheers from the audiences the children performed to, as Chairman of School Governors Mr. Mike Sessarego gave a glittering appraisal of such an impressive performance which fully overcame the limitations of performing outdoors with clear confident singing and delivery of lines, along with some very slick and professional transitions in and out of the fitting background settings of the reflection garden and the trees of the Key Stage 2 play area!
Well done not only to the incredible main cast of young actors and actresses who took on the challenge of Bosbury School's first ever outdoor production very much in their stride, but also to all of the younger Key Stage 2 pupils who provided such fantastic vocal support with the memorable songs. How many different Safari animals can you spot from such a wide variety?
... and how can we forget the magnificent trio of 'DJ 'Raffes in da House', who did such a sterling job with the music underneath their sheltered hangout, diligently following the script and not missing a cue with all of the songs! Sick work dudettes, as the yoof would (probably) say.
A huge, HUGE thank you also to creative and musical directors Mrs. McManus and Mrs. Walker for rising to the challenge of this unique production and working so hard to put it all together over many rehearsals in often very warm conditions, to Mrs. Dark for all her work with the assorted animal backing singers, to Mr. Ponter for photography, to our ICT consultant Mark Sanderson and Mrs. McManus' daughter for providing additional support with all things technical, and of course to all of our lovely parents for all of their support with costume-making and no doubt lots of searching of Amazon and Ebay for appropriate animal onesies! The absence of any penguins or polar bears really helped to enhance the African setting!
You may have noticed one costume in particular in the photos which was truly impressive! Thank you very much to the lovely Mrs. Marianne Bailey, whose creative genius continues to live on at Bosbury School despite both her children now having moved on to secondary school as she put together this truly remarkable and eye-catching costume for Zazu. Just amazing!
Finally, a big thank you also to Rosa, Jasmine and Emily who gave up their time after school on a Tuesday for a number of weeks to help with the set design, and to Mrs. McManus, all of the Class 5 children and ex-pupil Bonnie for further work on the set including backdrops, authentic tribal masks, monkeys and tarpaulin. It looked fantastic!
A full gallery of nearly 300 photos of the two fantastic performances given to parents - including some exclusive behind-the-scenes make-up portrait photos of members of the cast of Pride Rock, can be found in the gallery below.