Photo by Leah Vance Photography Krista Brown-Trogdon, left and Melissa Roach Frye are co-directors of The Aracoma Story, Inc's production of "The Lion KIng Jr," which is set to premiere at the Liz Spurlock Amphitheatre inside Chief Logan State Park this week.


For The Logan Banner

LOGAN - "Hakuna matata" is a Swahili phrase from East Africa meaning "no trouble." This phrase has captivated the imagination of young audiences around the world in Disney's "The Lion King, Jr.," and soon the African savannah will come to life at the Liz Spurlock Amphitheatre.

Characters include Simba, a young lion; Rafiki, a baboon; Timon, a meerkat; Pumbaa, a warthog; and more. They journey from Pride Rock, a magnificent rock formation that serves as a central location in the Lion King universe, to the jungle and back again in this inspiring, coming-of-age tale.

"I think the story of how we all live in the next generation through our children and our children's children and so on will resonate with the audience," said co-director Melissa Roach Frye. "There are toe-tapping songs and beautiful ballads, comedic moments and heart-tugging moments that are sure to please. And super-talented kids."

Krista Brown-Trogdon is the co-director.

"She is so creative and talented," Roach Frye said. "She was the musical director for 'Aladdin, Jr.' last summer. Also, I love the music from 'The Lion King, Jr.' It's written by Elton John. But the best thing about this show is the kids, who work so hard and so happy to be there. They're incredibly talented, and there is so much joy with them."

Cathy Green and Julie Cottrell helped designed the costumes.

"They have worked tirelessly," Roach Frye said. "The actors and their parents, siblings and grandparents have worked on the costumes. The costumes are fabulous!"

Brown-Trogdon said the production is a community effort."

"With the guidance of Cathy Green and Julie Cottrell, our parents and cast members have had a hand in building the costumes, props and some set pieces," she said. "It's been very reminiscent of my childhood experience with The Aracoma Story, Inc. Being hands-on has done so much to build pride within this production."

Roach Frye said the song "Circle of Life" bookends the show by saying we are all connected

"Sometimes with junior shows, the community has a false perception that it's only for kids," said Brown-Trogdon. "That isn't the case. While it is a scaled-down version of the Broadway production, the story is still interesting, the craftsmanship of the costuming is impressive, and these kids are giving a top-notch performance. This show also appeals to every audience member."

Roach Frye said she enjoys teaching kids how to perform.

"I've even directed my two sons, Jackson and Griffin, in shows. I love the collaboration of theatre. I'm also a former music teacher," she said.

Tickets at the door are $15 for adults, $12 for students and seniors and $8 for children. Tickets in advance are $12 for adults, $10 for students and seniors and $6 for children.

There are also discounted group rates of 10 and 20 in advance. For advanced tickets, call 304-752-0253.

Show times are 8:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday, Aug. 23-25, Aug. 30-31 and Sept. 1, and Sept. 6-8.

"I'm very excited about the things we've done for the show," Cottrell said.