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Chester County Press

Young people with special needs stage 'Lion King Jr.' this weekend

07/24/2018 09:53AM ● By J. Chambless

Karalyn Joseph stands among the cast members of 'The Lion King, Jr.'

A group of young people with special needs who do not ordinarily perform on stage will show their talents in a production of “The Lion King, Jr.” this weekend.

C.A.S.T., an acronym for Community of Actors with Special Needs Theatre, is led and produced by 19-year-old Harvard sophomore and Unionville High School graduate Karalyn Joseph, who is directing her fourth show in three years at the Willowdale Chapel theater.

“The Lion King,” released by Disney in 1994, tells the story of Simba, a young lion who is destined to succeed his father, Mufasa, as King of the Pride of Lions. After his father is killed by his uncle, Simba is convinced that it is his fault, and he goes into exile. The musical is an account of what he learned and how he later took his place as the Lion King.

The cast, like the previous three shows, is composed mostly of kids over 16 who have some degree of physical or developmental disability. The first show in 2016 was “Seussical Jr.” In 2017 it was “Beauty and the Beast,” followed by a cabaret-style show in January 2018.

Joseph says each year the number of participants has grown as word has spread of the success of the program. This year, the cast numbers 40.

“The Lion King, Jr.” will be performed at the Willowdale Chapel (675 Unionville Rd., Kennett Square) at 7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, July 26 and 27, and at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 28. Tickets are $12 each and $7 for kids 12 and younger. They are available at the door or online at