Canmore Collegiate High School’s drama program is getting ready to present its wildest show yet.
On Dec. 21-22, the combined forces of Grades 10, 11 and 12 students will bring to the stage The Lion King, a theatrical adaptation of the Disney hit movie.
At an interview at a rehearsal last week, teacher Sabrina Harper explained why the class went with this production.
“I had two students that were really keen to do The Lion King last year and we’ve always wanted to do The Lion King,” she said. “Every year our shows are based on students’ choice and what everyone’s really keen to do, so we had a big voting process at the beginning of this year, and The Lion King won by one vote. We have been going full-on ever since.”
Created in 1994, the story centres around a pack of African lions and the adventures they have. The original film has gone on to win numerous awards and be staged as a Broadway musical.
“It’s such a great classic story, and so many people in this generation at the high school grew up with it, and it’s a heartwarming story – every song is very catchy and everyone knows every song and all the scenes, so it’s well known and it’s a very upbeat, warm play or show,” said Harper.
The production features about 40 students, she said.
“This is the biggest production we’ve ever put on, as we’re pulling in the Drama 10s, so we have Grade 10, Grade 11 and Grade 12 – it’s primarily a Grade 11 and 12s show, but we felt it would be much more powerful if we had even more bodies and animals on stage. So it’s a big show and the kids have been super focused, and that’s helped when you’re working with that many people on stage at once,” explained Harper.
“We have two behind the scenes, and everyone else is on the stage. The great thing about The Lion King is that there are so many roles for the students, so giving a ton of students an opportunity to perform, that’s a big goal.”
Grade 12 student Ashley Sieben led the charge to get The Lion King into the drama class curriculum.
“And it’s appropriate for all ages, which is important – that way we can have a bigger audience,” she said, adding to the last statement by her teacher. “It goes right off the script from the movie too, we didn’t change anything, we didn’t move anything around, so what you remember from when you were a kid is what you’re going to see on stage.”
Sieben has been an avid drama student since Grade 7.
“It’s my passion, I really like it. It’s something I’ve been doing since I was little, always been very outgoing,” she said. “Plus Miss Harper’s a really good teacher, she keeps it interesting, it’s not just another class – it’s fun and it gives you a break from the same old lull, taking you from one class to another, which is nice.”
Her fellow students are all people she’s known and worked with a long time, and she has confidence in their abilities.
“I’ve grown up with everyone, so you know everyone and are comfortable with them. Even though I’m in a class with people who are younger than me, we still feel like a big family. Age doesn’t matter, or grades or stuff like that, we leave all that stuff at the door. It’s all about coming together and making sure we entertain the people that come,” she said. “We have fun doing it and everybody fits their part perfectly.”
In the lead male role, Tanner Goodstoney plays the part of King Mufasa.
“I’m happy that I’m the king. Since there’s quite a few of us, we needed a production where we could fill lot of roles,” he explained. “We’ve taken it pretty far.
“The other students all do their roles pretty nicely; I’m sure this play will turn out really good.”
Also 17 years old and in Grade 12, Goodstoney has been changed as a person by drama, he said.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “This class made me become someone I’m not. I used to be quite a mean person and after taking drama I’ve been a lot nicer.”
For Sieben, her role as a hyena fits her nicely, she said.
“For me, I’m a hyena and, with the other two main hyenas in the production, our parts are fit to our personalities, because that’s exactly how we treat each other when we’re around each other,” she said. “It just transfers really well on stage that you are who you are, in person and on stage, which is pretty cool.
“The hardest thing with doing a show in school is we only have half a year. We start with bonding exercises, and then go into another thing and then another thing and next you put on a big production – this year was good because we started really early, we’ve had three months to work on it, which is important.”
Harper made note of a student teacher – Adrienne Fossheim – who’s done exceptional work with the production.
“She’s been amazing and I would not have been able to do the show on my own. With her help, we’re able to do a lot more with the students,” she said. “She’s been here a ton and is coming in on her own time and working on the program to make sure the show goes over well.”
Sieben echoed these sentiments.
“We have an extra teacher helping us, which is really good, because she’s a student teacher,” she said. “We have a lot of extra help and people who are just willing to dive right in and actually do it, whereas a lot of other years we didn’t have the commitment and time to get it done and make it a good show.”
Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with the show starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 each or $10 per family.