Overtown Youth Center students wow audience with production of ‘The Lion King’

MIAMI — Attendees said they got more than they imagined when they attended the Overtown Youth Center’s (OYC) end-of-summer, Broadway-styled production of The Lion King on at the Miramar Cultural Center.

Hundreds of students in OYC’s music, dance and arts department, as well as members of OYC’s staff, brought the Disney classic to the stage in a way that left audience members astounded.

“This was one of the best productions that I have seen of that type put on by kids. When I saw the write up, I thought it would be a good attempt on the part of the kids, but if I had not known any better I would have thought that we were on Broadway at a professionally produced production,” said Phil Bacon of Urban Philanthropies.

His sentiment was echoed by Latasha Rhodes from The Miami Foundation. “I really enjoyed every bit of the performances. I was very captivated, mesmerized and in awe at the talent these children had. Every child, from elementary to high school, was excellent. You are all doing such an extraordinary job in theatre with the children at OYC,” Rhodes said.

The audience lauded all of the OYC students for their talent, but Scar, played by Kiona Mack, proved to be a crowd favorite. Mack is a student at Miami Arts Charter who started dancing in the OYC program. “She did so well she made the villain into a hero,” said Melissa Ross, an OYC parent who attended the show.

OYC students and staff prepared for the production over the course of the six-week summer program. In addition to learning scripts and choreography, the students helped design the set, inclusive of props and the backdrop. The visionary of the annual production is the lead dance instructor at OYC, Latasha Strawder. She said she implemented the annual end-of-summer production three years ago to take the students to a new level.

“Our kids have sheer, undeniable talent and I wanted them to explore other areas, not just street dancing, but also Broadway and classical dance. I wanted them to get a feel for a real stage and see what a real production takes,” Strawder said.

The production was so well received that people are already putting in their RSVPs for next year’s show. Stay tuned to for updates on the next OYC production.