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With more than 90 million audience members worldwide, 70 major theater awards internationally, and 25 productions around the world, it is no wonder that Disney’s The Lion King holds the record as the third-longest-running Broadway show and, on Friday, Jan. 18, the Athens Theatre will be bringing The Lion King Jr. to Central Florida.

This production brings the wonder of the Broadway show and makes it accessible to youth by using the slightly shortened Jr. version.

Costume designer Tamara Marke-Lares has raised the bar once again by creating an eclectic herd of animals painted in tribal makeup and clad in brightly colored costumes. The play includes hand puppetry, rod puppets and puppetry kites.

This version of The Lion King features all of the beloved Elton John and Tim Rice music from the Academy Award-winning Disney film.

Audiences will, once again, become entranced by the Hamlet-inspired tale about a lion pride and what happens when their wise King Mufasa (played by Gabriel Hannans) is murdered by his evil brother, Scar (Joaquin Villalobos), who then convinces the young lion prince Simba to believe that his father’s death is his fault. (Young Simba is played by Denver Humphrey, and Grown Simba is played by D’Montrae Harris.)

Whether you come to sing along with Simba and Nala (Lauren Jacobs), who harmonize to “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” or to chuckle at the antics of Timon the meerkat (Shawna Mann) and Pumbaa the warthog (AJ Daniels), the whole family is bound to enjoy all the cherished songs, including “Circle of Life” and “Hakuna Matata,” and the artistic way in which this classic tale is portrayed.

The production’s director, Athens Theatre Artistic Director Craig Uppercue, could not be happier with this show. As he put it, “The Lion King Jr. is a celebration of life, a celebration of community, and a celebration of friendship! It is a story of love and redemption that is perfect for every member of the family!”

The Athens Theatre invites you to join them Friday, Jan. 18, as they celebrate opening night of The Lion King Jr. with free champagne.

Performances run through Sunday, Feb. 3, so if you can’t make it on opening night, come to any of the other performances, and treat your family to a night they will not forget!

 

Showtimes and ticket information

The Lion King Jr. opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18, and continues at that time Saturday, Jan. 19, Thursday, Jan. 24, Friday, Jan. 25, Saturday, Jan. 26, Thursday, Jan. 31, Friday, Feb. 1, and Saturday, Feb. 2, and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, Sunday, Jan. 27, and Sunday, Feb. 3.

The historic Athens Theatre is at 124 N. Florida Ave. in Downtown DeLand.

Tickets cost $28 for preferred seating (rows A-E, center); $23 for adults; $21 for senior citizens; $11 for students and children; and $19 per person for groups of eight or more. A $3-per-ticket processing charge will be added to each purchase.

To purchase tickets in advance or for more information, visit the Athens Theatre website at www.AthensDeLand.com or call the box office at 386-736-1500. Box-office hours are 1-5 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays, and one-and-a-half hours before live performances.

— Baldwin is director of marketing and operations for the Athens Theatre. 

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