Tesago elementary students prepare for Lion King Jr.

Provided photo. 
Shenendehowa elementary students prepare for their performance of The Lion King Jr. in the beginning of April.Provided photo. Shenendehowa elementary students prepare for their performance of The Lion King Jr. in the beginning of April.

By Cady Kuzmich
Gazette Reporter


Clifton Park — Tesago Elementary School will be presenting a performance of The Lion King Junior Friday April 1 and Saturday April 2.


“It is going to be a phenomenal show, with all costumes hand made,” said Gayatri Hingwala, the play’s publicity coordinator. The cast is comprised of about fifty actors and actresses plus eleven crew members, all of whom are third, fourth and fifth graders.  

The role of Mufasa will be played by Declan Gillan and Brendan Teter. Simba will be played by Luke DaBiere and Young Simba will be played by Santino Ianello. Joon Choo will take on the role of Scar. Lauren Bieniek and Devyn Jones will both play Rafiki. The play’s director, Mrs. Coryer, an elementary teacher at Tesago,  noted Declan, Brendan, Luke, Joon, Lauren, and Devyn are all fifth grade students while Santino is in third grade.

Coryer and several mothers will be making the student’s costumes by hand.


Choosing a story the students were familiar with was important in deciding which play to perform, according to Coryer. She explained, “We usually choose a play that the students can relate too, and that might be familiar to them.  It makes it easier for them to learn the music and understand their characters. “ She added, “Not only does it fit the above criteria, but it has wonderful roles for boys.  Since it is usually harder to entice boys to audition, this was a plus.”


Each student in the play auditioned with a song from the play, some individually and others in groups. “We try to make the audition fun, and to make sure the kids feel relaxed and supported. To do this, we will have the entire group review songs and portions of the script prior to individual auditions,” explained Coryer.

When it comes to helping young students overcome stage fright, Coryer said, “It is all about preparation.” With the help of specific acting instructions and vocal rehearsals, Coryer hopes sufficient preparation will help diffuse the fears of her young actors and actresses.  “This is really important for young performers who may be acting for the first time,” she said.
“We share our vision of the show with them.  They are shown set design sketches and costume pieces so that they begin to feel ownership of the production.  We also make sure that the cast bonds. They support and encourage one another and that makes a big difference,” Coryer added.