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Mooney’s The Lion King, Jr is a Family Affair

The Lion King is a story about a character returning home to embrace his destiny.

Cardinal Mooney’s production of the timeless tale shows, perhaps, that sometimes life could imitate art.

After a three-year hiatus from directing at Cardinal Mooney, theater director Anita Philibin returned in 2019 to lead a production of Of Mice and Men.
Now, this weekend, she leads students into a much larger production — Disney’s The Lion King Jr.

“This has been such a wonderful experience,” she said. “To watch this all come together, and to see the students discover what they are capable of doing is so rewarding.”
One of Philibin’s driving motivations to return was that her son, Andrew, is in his senior year.

“It was also a great opportunity to do something special with Andrew for his senior year,” she said.
“I thought it would be great for my mom to come back this year,” Andrew said. “It’s been very memorable — I’m happy she decided to do it.”

When it came down to finding the older version of the play’s main antagonist, Simba, Andrew was a great choice.

“It’s been very hard, but it’s also been rewarding,” Andrew said. “The cast is fantastic, and — again — it’s great working with my family.”

For this massive production, Anita casted dozens of kids from feeder schools to play the animals of Pride Rock — one of which is her daughter Katie.

“She has been around theater her entire life, and we just love that she’s a part of this,” Anita said. “Her and Andrew are very close, so it’s been great watching this entire effort be such a bonding experience for our entire family.”
Andrew added: “Katie is having so much fun with all of the other kids, as well as the Mooney students. It’s all something I will never forget.”

Anita has also led the theater effort for 10 consecutive years at St. Christine.