In the heart of Williston, North Dakota, a theatrical spectacle awaits audiences at the Old Armory Theatre. This summer, the YES (Youth Education on Stage) summer program, now in its 38th season, is set to present Lion King Jr. on July 25, 26, and 27 at 7 p.m.
The person leading the production is someone who’s been involved in theatre since her days in the first grade, Allayna Stevens, the current YES Artistic Director, who trained under the program's founders, Jack Dyville and B. Michael Quale. From her earliest performances, she has dedicated her time to the performing arts, acting, dancing, and singing in school, college, and as an adult with Entertainment Inc.
In its 38-year journey, YES has presented a rich and diverse array of shows, from classic Disney titles to timeless theatrical classics. The current director, after the retirement of Jack Dyville in 2019, has been instrumental in maintaining this variety, with shows like Frozen Jr. already under her belt.
The program's reach in the local community is impressive. In recent years, around 120 children from the Williston area have participated in each program. Given the number of participants, the choice of production must take into consideration the need for multiple ensembles and roles. That's where Lion King Jr. comes into the picture. This adaptation of the iconic film offers a wide variety of animal characters, creating plenty of opportunities for the program's talented young actors.
When asked about her favorite aspects of directing Lion King Jr. and theater in general, Allayna couldn't help but express her admiration for the collective effort that goes into each production. “A theater program,” she pointed out, “is more than just the actors on stage. It's a team of directors working together to execute a shared vision, a group of dedicated parent volunteers contributing to costumes, props, and more, and older participants who mentor the younger ones.” Above all, it's a community coming together to create a shared experience of joy and wonder.
And of course, a theater production of this scale wouldn't be possible without the support of community sponsors. Their contributions are instrumental in bringing the magic of Lion King Jr. to life.
So, this summer, come join the journey to the pride lands and witness the magic as YES theater program breathes new life into a beloved classic. As this enchanting tale unfolds, the vibrant talent of Williston's young actors is sure to leave an impression as the stage comes to life. Make sure to check out The Community Shopper every week to see what is happening in your local area!