How to put on a Broadway musical

HARLINGEN — Harlingen South’s art department began preparing its production of “The Lion King” this summer.

It’s a grand affair, featuring about 150 students age 5 through 18. They’ve come from throughout the city.

While “The Lion King” is a beloved classic known by many, this Broadway version is a whole new take every bit as exciting, with “representational” costumes. It’s all about theater-goers using their imagination.

“We’re having to learn how to work with puppets,” said Lee Ann Ince, theater teacher at Harlingen South.

For example, John Duncan uses a puppet for his performance of Timon, the meerkat. Zazoo, played by Nate Carney, also uses a puppet.

In order for the show to succeed, they had to enlist the assistance of the school’s art department, the choir and the dance department. The art department created the masks, the choir is singing some of the African songs, and there’s also a dance number. The puppets just arrived from Canada.

“It’s a beautiful story,” Ince said. “It appeals to all ages. I think we selected it because I knew we had the cast. I knew the title alone was going to sell tickets. I also knew it was going to challenge myself and my co-workers and it would bring everybody together.”

It’s such a broad production with so many separate parts, they hadn’t all come together until this week. The actors seemed thoroughly enthused about the progress, and the opportunity to perform in “The Lion King.”