Theater production roars on stage

The Play’s the Thing Productions brings ‘The Lion King Junior’ to Burnsville


Rafiki, played by Kate Elizabeth Andrews, and Simba, played by Payton Bunnell, will perform this weekend in The Play’s the Thing Productions’ performances of “The Lion King Junior.” Photo submitted

The Play’s the Thing Productions will stage “The Lion King Junior” this weekend at the Mraz Center for the Performing Arts at Burnsville High School.

During 7:30 p.m. June 30 and July 1 performances along with a 2:30 p.m. July 2 matinee, the cast, which includes young actors and actresses from across the south metro, will bring to life the animal characters based on the 1994 Disney motion picture “The Lion King.”

Director Dayna Railton said the cast and crew members have been working very hard to perfect the complex material that includes spoken word, singing in Swahili and choreography all while wearing elaborate costumes that depict them as lions, a warthog, a meerkat, a baboon and more.

“They are doing awesome,” Railton said. “At TTPT we do things faster. We have a talented staff and no time is wasted. Every minute of rehearsals, they are filled and used.”

Railton said that even though the participants, ages 7-17, come from different schools throughout Dakota County and beyond, many of them return summer after summer and even perform with TTPT during its school-year productions.

She said this is about the third or fourth wave of young people to come through TTPT, which has been staging summer shows since 2009.

Since many of the cast members have forged friendships outside of the summer months, the chemistry they are able to bring on stage is apparent.

“They are very supportive of each other,” Railton said.

That chemistry is most apparent in the comic relief provided by Timon, a meerkat played by Eliza Lorensen, and Pumbaa, a warthog played by Sophie Herzog, according to Railton.

She said they have embraced the comedy, as they have also delivered the more serious material with effectiveness.

Railton said people should come to “The Lion King Junior” since the story is a timeless one that touches on family, friendships and the circle of life.

“In life we go through hope and despair and faith and love during our time on Earth,” Railton said. “We are all connected to this circle of life.”

She said the staging of “The Lion King Junior” brought out more boys than usual, and all of the cast have brought a different level of excitement to the production.

Since the movie is 23 years old, Railton said there are now two generations of young people who remember seeing the movie as a child.

“They are just as enthusiastic about it as when they were little,” Railton said.

Tickets cost $10 for children, $11 for seniors and $12 for adults.

People can purchase tickets at