Local elementary school students perform Lion King Jr. at RHS


Blue Oaks Elementary School students don’t have to wait until high school to get a chance to perform in the Patti Baker Theater. Instead, their production of Lion King Jr. has moved from their small elementary school stage to one five times bigger.

Producer Ashley Rue helps enhance the performance and the young actors’ love of their craft by holding the show in a high school auditorium, where between 80 to 100 students get the chance to shine on the stage of their dreams.

“Each year, we take anybody who wants to participate in the musical…we’ve always brought them to Roseville High for the past eight or nine years with the exception of last year,” Rue said. “Last year, we were at Whitney and now we are back to Roseville and we are excited.”

While the RHS stage is in the Patti Baker Theater, Blue Oaks Elementary School shares their stage with the rest of the cafeteria. By being able to put on their show in a high school theater, students and volunteers are able to gain a more complete experience.

 For third grader Alex Fork-Cyliax, he feels that his love of performing was enhanced by being on a larger stage.

“It feels good performing on my first big stage,” Fork-Cyliax said, “More space to do my dialogue, more microphones, more lighting and more space for when we’re off-stage. I just like being in theatrical performances to express myself.”

RHS teacher Jessica Fork, mother of Forx-Cyliax, enjoys being able to see not only her son, but also all the other kids come to life on the stage.

“I’m very proud of the kids putting the show together. Blue Oaks Elementary always does a fantastic job putting these shows together and I remember when I was in elementary school, they were never this cool,” Fork said. “They have great costumes, and direction and they work really hard. They started in September, so it’s really cool to see how far they’ve come along.

The larger space also helps fifth grader Jackson Koepke, who plays Mufasa, put on a brighter show. However, the larger area can also feel overwhelming at times.

“It’s just a little bit different from our elementary school to come here,” Koepke said. “It’s a big, giant, larger stage that you have to get used to and figure out what you’re doing, where your placement [on the stage] is.”

On top of a larger stage, there are also smaller components that help make the show feel complete. On the first day of the show’s opening week, students go through their final practice during the evening. Their first live performance is held the next day in front of their school. Following that, the Blue Oaks students get the chance to act on a high school stage with all of the trappings that come with it.

“We get to practice on the big, huge, massive stage with lots of great acoustics,” Rue said. “On the night of, a couple of the kids will get personal mics and the big bright lights. Their performance just gets better and better each time.”

Even though Lion King Jr. is set in the heart of the Pride Lands in Africa, many of the performers and volunteers have found a connection and love for the story.

Koepke enjoys playing Mufasa, and the impactfulness of the relationship between Simba and Mufasa is a large reason behind his enjoyment.

“[I really like] spreading a little bit of wisdom to my son, passing it down so he can pass it down to his son,” Koepke said.