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The Lion King Kids play slated for Thursday

WORTHINGTON -- El Sistema students will bring The Lion King Kids, an adapted version of the popular Broadway show, to Worthington with performances slated for 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Thursday inside the Fine Arts Theater at Minnesota West Community...

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El Sistema students rehearse The Lion King Kids Tuesday morning at Minnesota West. (Martina Baca / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON - El Sistema students will bring The Lion King Kids, an adapted version of the popular Broadway show, to Worthington with performances slated for 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Thursday inside the Fine Arts Theater at Minnesota West Community and Technical College.

All are welcome to attend.  

“It’s going to be great; I am excited and the kids are so excited too,” James Jarvie, one of El Sistema’s music teachers said. “I bused the kids from Ellsworth and we are singing Lion King songs for the entire 30 minutes.”

Jarvie said music teachers from around the area, along with approximately 28 students, have been working hard during the last three weeks to master the music and theatrical aspects of the play. He said he has enjoyed the learning process of the play, from introducing students to the basics of theatre to the specifics of the play.

“I think my favorite part is during the second week, when the kids are learning the choreographies and when you see all that hard work come together at the end of the week,” Jarvie said.  

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The play is similar as the original Broadway version with the same main characters, but shortened.

Jarvie has been part of El Sistema since its beginnings and has witnessed the growth and the positive response from the communities.

“First year, we had eight to 10 students so it was really small.” Jarvie said. “But then two years ago we started having around 60 kids.”

El Sistema was first started in a garage with 11 children in Venezuela back in 1975. With the passing of the years. the music and theatre program spread through South and North America.

Three years ago El Sistema was brought to Worthington and surrounding areas to students during the school year as well as in the summer. The program has no cost and snacks and transportation are also included.

The music program has been led by Aida Simon, a parent engagement specialist at the Nobles County Integration Collaborative (NCIC)  and music teachers Erika Bierman of Adrian, Cindy Anderson of Worthington and Jarvie, of Ellsworth.

“I think it’s super important to bring music and acting and a different way of life to many kids who may not have this opportunity otherwise,” Jarvie said.

Simon said the main goal of the program is to close the achievement gap and to expose students to an enriching experience. She noted that the program gives the opportunity to those students who probably are not able to afford instruments and other aspects of learning music and theatre.  

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“The goal of El Sistema is to bring hope, fight poverty, close the achievement gap and create positive citizens,” Simon said.

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