CONWAY — Students at Conway School brought Disney’s “The Lion King” to life last weekend.
“This is so amazing,” said teacher Kim Turner, who directed the school’s musical version of “The Lion King KIDS.”
Through the Disney Musicals in Schools program, the school was awarded this year a Seattle Theatre Group grant that is helping it put on performances and build its drama program.
“We are so lucky,” Turner said.
The Seattle Theatre Group has partnered with the Disney program for five years, said Amberlee Joers, Disney Musicals in Schools project manager with the Seattle Theatre Group.
This year, the organization received funding that would allow it to add two schools to the program, including Conway.
The grant is open to schools that receive federal Title I funding — dollars that are reserved for public school districts with high numbers of students from low-income families.
“At the Seattle Theatre Group, we’re really passionate about arts and equity,” Joers said. “Sometimes we partner with schools who have never done (performances) before.”
Of the 19 schools the group has worked with, the Conway School District is the farthest north of Seattle, Joers said.
As part of the three-year grant, schools are given licensing rights to perform one of seven Disney KIDS musicals, tickets to see a live performance of the musical and assistance from the Seattle Theatre Group.
Assistance includes two members from the group who will help teach the school’s teachers how to stage a production for kids.
“Their career is theater,” Turner said of the members. “Their expertise in working with the kids on the technical part of theater has been great.”
Turner, who recently co-produced the Theater Arts Guild’s production of “Annie” at the Lincoln Theatre, said having theatrical opportunities for students helps them build camaraderie, gives them a feeling of accomplishment and helps them in the classroom.
“Kids who are involved in theater build confidence,” she said. “Everybody wins here.”
Auditions were open to students in grades three through six, Turner said.
The movie “The Lion King” is one of sixth-grader Noah Brown’s favorite Disney movies. He wanted to audition for a role in the play to do something different.
“Most of us haven’t done anything like this before,” said the 11-year-old Noah.
Third-grader Samantha Walters said while she has been dancing since she was 2, she was excited to try out her acting skills. She plays young Nala, the best friend of young Simba.
Remembering her lines was easy, she said.
“They’ve got the (acting) bug,” Turner said.
With their partners from the Seattle Theatre Group, the students have been working on the play since October.
The school was also able to borrow some costumes from the Anacortes Community Theatre, Turner said.
“It’s this great coming together of our theater community,” she said.
Later this month, the students will take a field trip to the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, where they will perform a song with students from each of the other participating schools.