The Lion King

On the last Saturday of July, Wendy Samantha Production students past and present embraced the Melbourne cold and ventured to The Regent Theatre. The outing of 40 people was to support friend and WSP family member Kushinka Jayewardene, who is currently featuring as Young Nala in Disney’s The Lion King.

Wendy first started teaching Kushinka who was in her prep class in 2010. Now in year 5, Kush had followed Wendy after becoming a WSP student in 2011. Since then she’s been a part of a variety of performances, Manningham Eisteddfods and most recently, a charismatic and stand-out ensemble member in The Sound of Music. We can all look forward to seeing her in 2016 though, where Kushinka is taking on the leading role of Annie in WSP’s musical of the same title, alongside Xian Loi, who is also cast in the role.

The group of excited WSP’ers bubbled in the foyer, buying programs and gushing over Kushinkas name on the principle cast list. We were quickly ushered into our seats and then, filling an entire row, we waited eagerly for the show to start. As soon as the lights were dimmed and the audience hushed the familiar sound of “The Circle of Life” begun to fill the theatre, and everyone was instantly memorized. The show was filled with equal amounts of laughs and tears, and most of all absolute pride seeing our very own Kushinka thriving in her role of the sassy young lion. We were all spell bound by the stunning sets, costumes, puppets and performers, it was certainly obvious The Lion King was going to stay with us for a long time.

At curtain call a standing ovation was held as both young and adult Nala took their bow, and a massive applause was most definitely in order. The show finished and through tears and complete awe of what we had all just watched we rushed to stage door to greet our little star.

LionKing

Kushinka exited on to the street to see 40 people clapping and chanting her name, the only real way anyone who had just given such a magical performance should be greeted! After she took lots of photos with WSP’ers and strangers, met new fans, was given a special gift and signed autographs, Kushinka happily introduced us all to her Lion King family, including the actors who portrayed Simba and Nala.

It was a truly wonderful day, and a proud moment for everyone who knows Kushinka. Her talent, unmatchable dedication and energy, has not gone unnoticed by friends, family or strangers. Make sure you head down to The Regent Theatre before the end of November to see this incredible young performer in the breathtaking show, which I would call, the best in Melbourne this theatre season!

Congratulations Kushinka Jayewardene

~ Ebony Tucker

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