Theater is present at Penn State through organizations like Thespians and No Refund Theatre. However, there is one organization that aims for a theater presence in a different way.
Students from the performing arts program, Harmony, took the stage Sunday night to take audience members on a journey to the Pride-land by performing their rendition of The Lion King Kids at Schwab Auditorium.
Harmony is a theater group with the goal of integrating individuals with and without special needs. Founded in 2013, Harmony has 35 students and 55 volunteers. Most recently, Harmony established a program aimed at child called HarMINIs for ages 3-10.
At tonight's performance, the students of Harmony sang, danced and acted their way through the traditional story of Simba’s journey to becoming king of the Pride lands. The performance contained all of the iconic songs including “Circle of Life,” “I Just Can’t Wait to be King,” “Hakuna Matata” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?”
Public relations chair for Harmony Jaimi Wagner spoke of the deeper message she hopes audience members take away from the performance.
“I hope they share the magic," Wagner (senior-communication sciences & disorders) said. "I hope they see that all students of every age and in any period of life can enjoy theater and music.”
She she said the students have been rehearsing since the beginning of the semester, every Monday for an hour, plus an extra dress rehearsal.
At the performance, the auditorium was filled with people eager to see the show. Students of the club even made paw prints that lead audience members to their seats.
Audience member Ronda Stump of Elizabethtown, PA said the show brought her joy as a viewer.
“It’s exciting to see all of these kids get the opportunity to shine on the stage,” Stump said.
Skyler Kulchinsky commented on the environment that the organization has the potential for creating for the students.
“It gives them a community and support system," Kulchinsky (senior-marketing) said. "That is really important.”
The show came to a close when cast members and volunteers sang a song about Harmony which further emphasized community within the organization. Lyrics like “together with one voice” reminded audience members of the sense of unity within Harmony.
The night concluded when the president of Harmony Leila Genkin presented each individual student by name recognized them individually for their work. Audience members were on their feet clapping the entire time.
Genkin (senior-risk management) also thanked numerous people after the show, including the volunteers who assisted the cast members, held their scripts and guided them around stage.
“They give an hour every week and many of them give even more," Genkin said. "We have the best volunteers in the whole world and we are so thankful for all of them.”
Next semester, Harmony will be performing another musical. The title of the show will be announced mid-semester.