Reclaim Arts Academy’s debut performance of Disney’s The Lion King, Jr. was a huge success all the way around. Audiences were amazed to see the quality of not only the performances but also the costumes and scenery. Reclaim Arts Academy discovered that they have incredible support from the surrounding community as audiences swelled to over 300 people for each performance. Most importantly, The Lion King, Jr. cast members were rewarded with standing ovations at the end of both performances, followed by a long line of fans waiting to get pictures and autographs with them.
The production was not only well-represented locally but also drew fans from across Texas and other neighboring states. “The Lion King, Jr. was an engaging, entertaining musical that paid tribute to God’s creation and the children who shared their talents in it,” said Emily Erkel, who traveled all the way from Little Rock, Arkansas, to see her niece Sarah Womack perform.
“This performance far exceeded what we dreamed it could be, and that’s saying a lot because we dream big!” said Amy Stubblefield, who served as one of the production’s five directors. “Everything about it was ‘next level’ for us, from the organization and communication to the level of commitment from the families. Everyone jumped in with both feet and really caught the vision of what we wanted to do. When God is involved, the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.”
When asked if there were any challenges to organizing a production of this magnitude, Stubblefield shared that costuming was one area that definitely proved to be challenging, especially since each child had an average of four costumes, all hand-made by both parents and directors. Though all of the costuming was impeccable, the show-stopper was definitely the incredible lion and lioness headpieces, which were made by Melissa McCallum, mother of two cast members.
“The Lion King was my favorite Disney movie as a teen and my favorite Broadway musical,” said McCallum. “When I found out about the production in town, I jumped at the chance to get my kids involved and to help out with it.”
Once McCallum committed to making the headpieces and got the vision for what each one should look like, she was on a mission. Each headpiece took between 8-10 days to complete from start to finish. Though getting the headpieces made in the time allowed seemed doable at the beginning of the project, McCallum confesses to staying up until 2 am the last two weeks of the production in order to get them completed in time.
“The most rewarding part of this project was seeing how excited the kids were to wear them and personally knowing that God was able to use me for this purpose,” said McCallum. “I am truly humbled and certainly wasn’t prepared for all the attention that they’ve received. I love theater and art, and honestly they were just so much fun to make.”
Though the production is behind them, the producers are hopeful that cast members have gained some valuable lessons that will stay with them for life. “It’s been a blessing to watch each student develop their theater skills and come to understand the importance of unity, patience and perseverance,” said Stubblefield. “Several students commented that they were able to see God in this story, which is really important to us. He has given us our creativity and we can see Him in what we create.”
Susannah Slyker, who played the part of Pumba, shared her thoughts in her bio, which reads: “From participating in the production, I learned that every person plays an important role, and by working together, we can create an amazing piece of art for God.”
This production is not the last you will hear from Reclaim Arts Academy. They are preparing to offer classes in art, graphic design, music, dance, and theater starting in the fall. Their goal is to offer classes at an affordable rate, and thanks to the success of The Lion King, Jr. and generous donations, they will be able to offer some scholarships to students who love the arts but can’t afford the tuition. Registration will open in May. More information about Reclaim Arts Academy can be found online at redeemingthearts.org.
“We are so proud of how our students performed!” said First Baptist Church Marble Falls Worship Pastor Dorey Stubblefield. “They are all extremely talented and persevered to present the best program for the glory of God. This is an exciting beginning for Reclaim Arts Academy, and we can’t wait to see what God does through this ministry.”