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Hear them roar: Bate theater, chorus departments present ‘Lion King’ at DHS tonight through Saturday

 The story of Rafiki, Simba, Mufasa and Sarabi may have some dark moments, sure, but it will leave you feeling good. So says Darrell Rickmers who directs middle-schoolers in their production of “The Lion King, Jr.,” opening Thursday at Danville High School.
This one’s special, he says — mostly due to the collaboration. This one includes not only 13 actors, but 50 or so more students who are choir members at Bate.
“This has been a very unique collaboration,” Rickmers says. “We have created minimal set and costumes to allow the audiences to create these aspects from their own perspective.”
With such a large cast, Rickmers says he can confidently say: There’s more than one standout in this musical.
“There are several students who have a great deal of talent, so there really isn’t a real ‘standout’ — we have many,” Rickmers said. “It’s a Disney classic that most people know. The music is catchy, the storyline is easy to flow, and the characters — everyone loves.”
The only difference between “The Lion King” and “The Lion King, Jr.,” Rickmers says, is the music.
“The stories are the same, but the music is written in a different key that fits students’ voices,” he says. Additionally, he says the storyline is a bit scaled back to help young people with the memorization and interpretation, but the plot is the same.
“Yes, there are dark moments in the play, but it’s the good-overcoming-evil that will leave the audience wanting more. Not only that, the music is uplifting and toe-tapping,” Rickmers says. “Everyone will leave singing their favorite songs.”
The cast of “The Lion King, Jr.” includes: Dacota Ascensio, Demani Bell, Haley Bramble, Tatum Chunn, Neve Glasser, Madalyn Goode, Elena Griffith, Naomi Israel, Julius Lane, Lauren Lucas, Makalya McKenzie, Chelsey Thomas, Carly Villanueva, Duncan West and Sophie Wilson.
IF YOU GO 
“The Lion King, Jr.” will be 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday at Gravely Hall Performing Arts Center at Danville High School, 203 E Lexington Ave, Danville.
The production is a collaboration between John W. Bate Middle School Drama and Choir departments.
General admission at the door is $10; $5 for seniors and children 12 and under.
SO YOU KNOW 
There will be an ASL interpreter for Friday’s performance.