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Photo by Julie Van Valkenburg / Drew Champion, at right, plays the noble Mufasa, who combats his evil brother Scar, played by Noah Hawkins.

Hakuna matata! Chattanooga Theatre Centre's Youth Theatre will open its 2019-2020 season with a kid-friendly twist on Disney's beloved tale "The Lion King," opening Friday, Oct. 25, with six performances through Nov. 3.

"The Lion King Jr." is the story of the epic adventures of an adventurous and endearing cub named Simba as he struggles to accept the responsibilities of adulthood and his destiny as king of the Pridelands.

Along the way, the young lion encounters a colorful cast of characters, including spunky lioness Nala, charismatic meerkat Timon and lovable warthog Pumbaa. To claim his rightful place on the throne and save his beloved Pridelands, Simba must find his inner strength and confront his wicked uncle, Scar.

This abridged musical blends moments from the animated 1994 film and the Broadway production in a shortened running time, making it accessible to young performers and young audiences. There are familiar songs — "Circle of Life," "Hakuna Matata" and the Academy Award-winning "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" — as well as additional songs penned for the Broadway production. The original music and lyrics are by Tim Rice and Elton John.

Charlie Clevenger portrays Simba, with Drew Champion as his kingly father, Mufasa. Taylor Slack is his lioness friend Nala, and Noah Hawkins is his evil uncle, Scar.

If you go

* What: “The Lion King Jr.”

* Where: Chattanooga Theatre Centre, 400 River St.

* When: 7 p.m. Oct. 25 and Nov. 1; 2:30 p.m. Oct. 26-27, Nov. 2-3

* Admission: $10-$12.50

* For more information: 423-267-8534

Other familiar characters include Rafikia (MaKenzie Ballard), the wise mandrill who guides Simba on his journey; Pumba (Darrius Calloway) and Timon (Eben Shriner) as the comical warthog and meerkat who Simba encounters along the way.

Other featured characters are played by Johnathan Adams, Jackson Allen, Sam Gross, Trey Hartley, Hunter Landreth, Eboni Moore, Essence Moore and Cora Grace Williams.

The ensemble includes Melayna Buttry, Alex Champion, Gracie Hawkins, Abigail Holloway, Rylee Holloway, Darian Moore, Darryl Moore, Acadia Phillips, Manuel Tibbs, Erin Vaughn, Kyla Wheeler and Kaylyn Yancy.

The CTC's production will use music, movement, fabric, headdresses and puppets to animate the story. The production is directed by Scott Dunlap, with musical direction by Neshawn Calloway. Marie Dance is the choreographer.

The show, which will be performed in the CTC's mainstage theatre, is appropriate for first-graders and older.

Tickets are available by calling 423-267-8534 or online at http://theatrecentre.com/.

some text Photo by Julie Van Valkenburg / Taylor Slack, left, plays Nala, the spunky lioness who shares a friendship with young Simba, portrayed by Charlie Clevenger.
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