Parkway School students — spanning grades K-8 — are showcasing their skills to the community in a production of “The Lion King Jr.” that they have been rehearsing since October.

The students are performing the 60-minute version of the Disney classic on stage at 6 p.m. on Jan. 24 and 1 p.m. on Jan. 25 at Watauga High School. Erin Ellington, a music teacher at both Parkway and Mabel schools, said attendees will see their favorite characters and hear the movie’s memorable songs come to life on stage.

“Just wait until you hear the full cast sing ‘Circle of Life,’” Ellington said. “Between the costumes, the vocals, the choreography and a stage full of kids who have worked extremely hard … you really kind of see everything come together in that opening piece. It’s absolutely beautiful.”

Ellington said students and staff were able to vote for which production to perform next after the school had finished its “Beauty and the Beast” play last year. “The Lion King Jr.” received the most votes, and auditions were hosted in mid-September. The students have practiced during the course of 12 weeks to prepare for showtime by memorizing lines and learning vocals and choreography.

With a cast of more than 100 students, “The Lion King Jr.” is the school’s largest production and has a lot of moving parts, Ellington said. Students received some assistance from Appalachian State University faculty — including help with vocals from music theory professor Jennifer Snodgrass and choreography support from Sherone Price, an associate professor of dance studies. Students in the stage crew as well as parents have helped create animal masks, headpieces and set materials.

Ellington said theater productions provide community building for students, as they work together across all grade levels. She added that it allows students an opportunity to explore their strengths and learn from each other. Most of all, she hopes that the audience will appreciate the process those in the play have been in to perform at the final show — including the hours of practice, students honing various skills and the behind the scenes work of parents.

“It’s the journey of getting to the end result that is really awesome for me, and all of us, to be a part of,” Ellington said.

Tckets are $6 in advance and can be bought for $7 at the door. Proceeds from the event aid in purchasing rights and licensing for the school’s production next year. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.onthestage.com/show/parkway-school/the-lion-king-jr-81436.

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