Allie Baptiste will play Pumba in the Lion King, Jr.

Seniors may be just a couple of months from graduation, but at least 11 of them in Booneville are still deeply immersed in the Lion King.

The Lion King, Jr., actually, which is the BHS Drama/Choral department’s annual production that features a senior laden cast..

“This is the most seniors I’ve ever had,” said director Doug Sanders. “It’s really an amazing thing.”

The play will be performed five times on Friday, four times for groups of school district students with the fifth being at 7 p.m., the first of three public performances – the others are at 7 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Most of those seniors in the production are in at least their third production – Bianca Robertson is in her fifth.

In her third production is Allie Baptiste, who is transforming herself into the warthog named Pumbaa, after roles of Pinocchio in Shrek two years ago and Anna in Frozen last year.

Baptiste came to the drama department looking to be backstage.

“At first I was like I really don’t want to go up on stage, I’ll just help out and fill in for whoever doesn’t show up for practice,” said Baptiste. “The guy who was going to play Pinocchio showed up twice, then never again.

“I filled in for him and (Sanders) was ‘you’re doing pretty good, here, do that,’ and I was, OK.”

For Anna, Baptiste was cast in the role from the start.

“That was probably the most thing, I’ve ever done,” she said. “I still get compliments on that.”

Now she is the friend to Simba who must overcome an evil uncle to lay claim to a kingdom to which he is the rightful heir while restoring order in the jungle.

Alongside Pumbaa and helping Simba – Ian Shackleford, in his first role – will be a familiar face in Katelynn Spain as Timon. Spain was cast as Olaf last year.

Baptiste actually considered going after Spain’s role.

“I debated on trying out for Timon, but I didn’t think anyone could do (Pumba) better than I could,” said Baptiste. “So I tried out for Pumbaa.”

Baptiste said she may go check out the drama department in college, but her primary focus will be her major of early childhood education. She has already be accepted into the University of Arkansas, Fort Smith.

That will be quite the change for Baptiste as she spends considerable time in the so-called band building here in Booneville.

Besides her work with the play, Baptiste is a teacher’s aide for junior high choir, is in the building for a show choir class, and typically hangs around until after school practices.

Be that with the advanced or jazz bands as a trumpet player or, for the rest of this week, play practice, which will include dress rehearsals on Wednesday and Thursday.

Baptiste and her cast mates have been preparing for this week since reading for roles in December. Practices are generally Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights, along with Sunday afternoons.

Although it is a senior led play there are also plenty of underclassmen, like Farah Stringer playing the younger version of Simba. Stringer, a freshman, is in her second production having been cast as young Elsa in Frozen.

Tickets for the production are $5 in advance and are available in the high school office. At the door tickets will be $10.