Lansing schools to put on Disney musical

Posted at 12:29 PM, Feb 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-23 12:29:15-05

The 4th and 5th graders at Lewton Elementary, Lansing School District's Spanish Immersion School, have been rehearsing "The Lion King" for five weeks now.

"It's a very good play," says 5th grader Jahki Close who is playing the role of Simba, "we have a lot of songs to sing."

It's all thanks to Disney magic. Disney gave the Wharton Center a $100,000 grant to bring musicals into schools where kids might not have access to the arts.

The Wharton Center chose Lewton and Post Oak elementary schools in Lansing, and two schools in Flint. This 17 week after-school program is totally free.

"The schools each receive a completely free contract to perform the musical for an entire year," says Kris Koop Ouellette, the Associate Director of MSU Federal Credit Union's Institute For Arts and Creativity, "so once they get their 17 weeks under our tutelage, they can perform it and perform it and perform it."

At Lewton, the singing and dancing is already changing lives.

"That makes them happy to be in school and they want to come to school and then it also spills into their academics," says Focus Teacher for Spanish Immersion Susie Hernandez.

And the performers will tell you, there's nothing like getting on stage.

"I get to be with all the cast and my friends," says 4th grader Kyeaya McGrew who is playing Scar.

The program is sustainable and the schools get free rights to perform Disney musicals for two years. Plus, the grant means the Wharton Center will get to pick another four schools next year.

This really was a group effort. Community group "Hope Central" helped out big time at Lewton.

The big performance at Lewton is May 13 and 14 at Pattengill Academy, there will be ticket information closer to that date.