Pride of Sheepshead Bay: Kids stage ‘Lion King’ musical

Ready to shine: Part of the cast of “The Lion King” from PS 52.
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf

These cubs really roared.

More than 40 elementary school students from PS 52 in Sheepshead Bay took the stage for a stellar performance of Disney’s “The Lion King” on June 1 and 2. All of the actors and actresses — some not even tall enough to ride the Coney Island Cyclone — were just as good as the real Broadway deal, said mom to 9-year-old actress Tamiah Augustin.

“It was incredible,” said Naomy Augustin. “It almost brought tears to my eyes, the show was amazing. The costumes were great, the makeup, everything was gorgeous.”

PS 52 was one of nine New York City schools — out of 200 — to win the Disney Musicals in School contest, which offers support and assistance to schools creating musical theater programs. Disney will let pupils perform a handful of abridged Disney musicals, advise students and teachers on stagecraft, and give them tickets to see “The Lion King” on the Great White Way itself — plus the budding thespians will even get a chance to perform live on the strip at the New Amsterdam Theater on June 10, said director Naomi Avadanei.

Every student broke a leg during the show — and for some, it was there first time ever getting up in front of an audience, Avadanei said.

“The performance was fantastic,” she said. “The kids, they shine on stage, they are so proud to be there, they are so excited. Some have never been in a show before, and not even spoken in front of a class before.”

Newbie actress and fourth-grader Mascha Lifsheets played Rafiki and served as narrator along with a handful of other students. Lifsheets shined on stage as a first-time performer, according to dad Igor Lifsheets.

“Her first show ever, she was very excited about it,” he said. “She was very happy to participate in the show. She puts in so much effort.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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