Grammar School explores indigenous ways of knowing, “The Lion King”

PUTNEY, Vt. – The Grammar School’s spring musical, “The Lion King Jr.,” May 16, 17, 18, and 19, is the culmination of the school’s global education theme “Indigenous Ways of Knowing.”

Grammar School
The Grammar School is putting on their spring musical production, “The Lion King” as part of their study about indigenous traditions. Photo provided.

The story, popularized by the Disney film and the Broadway show, is a tale of betrayal, revenge, and redemption set within the African plains and inspired by African animals, music, and rhythm. Learning from mime artist, gifted director, and inspired world traveler, Chris Yerlig, using movement, character development, and puppetry, the students are creating an original rendition of this beloved story.

Yerlig says, “I’ve really enjoyed watching this fun group of students evolve as actors and artists, all the while collaborating with some amazing fellow artists from the TGS community. I feel very inspired, and grateful, and excited for folks to see what we have spent months cooking up.”

Yerlig has performed as a mime in solo and ensemble shows in 18 countries since leaving his native England 30 years ago. His favorite work combines volunteering to perform and teach to unite people with laughter across cultures. He has worked extensively with Enchanted Circle Theater, Project Troubador, Magicians Without Borders, Clowns Without Borders, and New England Youth Theater. He works all over the U.S.; appearances in Vermont include at Sandglass Theater’s Puppets in Paradise, Strolling of the Heifers, and at schools, libraries, parks and recs, fairs, and ski resorts.

“The Lion King Jr.” marks TGS music teacher Alli Lubin’s 25th production as producer and music director. Lubin says, “Working with these students over many years to develop their musical skills and theatrical talents and interests, and guiding them towards finding their confidence and voice, have been my passion and joy for the past 25 years. The more we challenge our students and then set them free to create, the more successful we are as teachers.”

Student contributions have been especially significant this year. Seventh grader Ella Korson’s enthusiasm for directing gave rise to a new role this year – that of student assistant director. Eighth grader Lucas Feder created an original drawing for the poster and program.

The production team includes: Sally Seymour, backstage manager; Jared Stolper, choral director; Susan Still, costume creator; Nathaniel Hall, Hannah Hornsby, Julia Jensen, and Jaja Laughlin, scenic designers; and parents and students assisting Yerlig and Seymour in making an array of handmade props. Hall also taught drumming and loaned drums to accompany the opening choreography of Jessica Sardinas. Joining Lubin in the pit band are Dan DeWalt, piano; Jared Stolper, guitar and ukulele; Dagan S. Broad, drums; and Chris Yerlig, percussion.

TGS will also be celebrating our new state-of-the-art LED lighting system, which we recently acquired through a grant with the help of Sally Seymour and her friend, professional lighting designer, Jeanne Koenig, who has worked on “The Lion King” installations all over the world. Koenig handled installation, lighting design for the show, and training our lighting team as a gift to our school.

Enjoy the show May 16-19, Wednesday through Saturday, at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 17, is Putney Family Services night, with all box office proceeds donated to PFS. To reserve seats, which is recommended, email Ailyn Hoey,, or purchase tickets at the door.

In addition to “The Lion King Jr.,” The Grammar School will extend their global education theme by preparing the food for the Next Stage event, “Indigenous Voices of the Land,” on Wednesday, May 9, from 7-9 p.m.

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