The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, May. 24, 2022

In the jungle…the mighty jungle…

There is a first time for everything, and that time is now!

Van Wert Live and the Van Wert Civic Theatre proudly announce a collaboration that puts the region’s most talented performers on the Niswonger Performing Arts Center Stage. For the first time ever, the Van Wert Civic Theatre will command the Niswonger stage in their production of Disney’s The Lion King Jr., a live experience that will captivate the audience at 7:30 p.m. January 22, and 2 p.m. Sunday, January 23.

The African savannah will come to life with Simba, Rafiki, and an unforgettable cast of characters as they journey from Pride Rock to the jungle… and back again.

So why is this special and how did this unique opportunity come to life? The pandemic challenges of the past couple of years provided the perfect environment to look at new ways to work together to drive organizational missions forward for the benefit of community and culture. The Van Wert Civic Theater and the Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation, support missions that complement one another. Each organization has the same key ingredients to fulfill their efforts – a product, a stage, and an audience.

The Van Wert Civic Theater curates its own product with a talented pool of regional performers while the VWAPAF engages outside artists to perform on a Van Wert Live stage. By working together, the Van Wert Civic Theatre provides the product, made possible by regional talent, Van Wert Live provides the Niswonger stage, and we both work together to sell tickets and build an audience. With a title as exciting and colorful as Disney’s Lion King Jr, coupled with the proven artistic acumen of The Van Wert Civic Theatre, ticket sales have proven as hot as the Sahara!

Mary Ann Falk, Board Member of the Van Wert Civic Theater, shared how this collaboration grew into a reality.

“What if VWCT did a youth show in January?” Falk pondered. “What if we used the NPAC stage to perform one weekend with greater audience capacity? What if we went as big as we could? This is how community theatre begins…with an idea.”

“No show is ever cast before it is publicized. Lion King Jr. was selling tickets before it had a cast. We send the call to the community and hope someone shows. Until November, Lion King was just an idea. Now it is a living, breathing show created by youth, families, and volunteers from right here in our community.”

So what should the audience expect from this monumental Van Wert Performing Arts first? We turn to experienced VWCT Director Doug Grooms to share about the electrifying performance that awaits us?

“When I dove into this production of Lion King Jr., I had a fairly clear overall vision for how I wanted the final production to look and how the process might work to bring this production to the stage,” Grooms said. “The best parts of this production, however, are the elements that have been added and enhanced through the creative collaboration with the performers and adult volunteers. When we are in a place where we feel that we belong and are safe to explore, risk, and make mistakes, we are all at our best. When we can work together to share ideas and craft solutions, we are all at our best.”

Tickets are available now at from only $10. You will be amazed at how fun it is to celebrate our young performing artists. The VWCT and the Niswonger Stage may be the door to opportunity for young artists, but it’s certainly an avenue to adventure for our audience.

POSTED: 01/18/22 at 1:47 pm. FILED UNDER: Arts & Entertainment