Topanga Elementary Charter School Presents The Lion King Jr.

Topanga canyon and the savannah of Africa have a lot in common right now. Both are home to majestic lions and a hot dry landscape. And, both are alive with the sounds of African drumming and song as Topanga Elementary Charter School takes on Disney’s “The Lion King Jr.” as this year’s musical production.

With more than 100 children, almost a third of the school, participating, the range of talent is impressive from pre-kindergarten to 5thgrade. “It is a coming together of all grades to produce something truly magical,” exclaimed Lisa Ward, parent and Co-producer of the production.

Under the experienced and professional expertise of Kristy Beauvais, parent and owner of the much loved local business, FocusFish, “The Lion King Jr.,” is a singing, dancing, acting, drumming extravaganza, not to be missed.

Beauvais has been with the school’s theater program for the past six years as choreographer, but this year she has taken on double duty as both choreographer and director! “The school is blessed to have the creative vision and talents of Kristy Beauvais,” said Jill Williams, Co-producer and one of the founders of Topanga Elementary Theatre Arts.

Musical Director, Tony Finetti, has been teaching the young cast how to sing melodies and harmonies in the African language and also to understand what they are singing. Destiny London has been designing and creating costumes for many years and she always raises the bar…this year will be no exception. The talented Michelle Ramos will be magically turning children’s hair and faces into that of lions, hyenas, zebras, gazelles, elephants and rhinos to name but a few.

This production is much more than just a school musical, it is an opportunity for all children, regardless of talent, to explore the world of performing arts, whether it be backstage or singing an iconic song in front of an audience for the first time. The experience is an emotional and educational journey for our children. “Not only is connection an important part of acting and telling a story, but it is also the part of our school community that makes doing this scope of children’s production possible,” Kristy Beauvais says. “Every piece is needed for the survival of our play. Every character essential to the heart of the show. Every person important in the experience. It is a true Circle of Life that has certainly moved us all.”

In addition to the performance license, “The Lion King Jr.” came with a supporting curriculum so that all the students at Topanga Elementary could participate in some way, including storytelling, drumming, and themes of the musical that include caring for our environment and all its living creatures.

The whole community is invited to be whisked away on an African adventure and be uplifted by the incredible talents of our local school children.

Performances are at 7pm on Friday, March 16th, 2pm and 7pm on Saturday, March 17th, and 2pm on Sunday, March 18th at AC Stelle Middle School in Calabasas, tickets can be purchased and seats reserved online at

All proceeds go to the Topanga Elementary School Enrichment Program, specifically Visual and Performing Arts. You won’t be just bringing your family to see a fabulous show, but you will be supporting the arts in our community, and for that we thank you.

Performances are at 7pm on Friday, March 16th, 2pm and 7pm on Saturday, March 17th, and 2pm on Sunday, March 18th at AC Stelle Middle School in Calabasas, tickets can be purchased and seats reserved online at

Never Again

Our striking cover this issue was drawn by Nicole Martinez aka Calamity Cole. She chose to draw Emma Gonzalez, a student activist born of the Parkland Florida school shooting. “She inspires me a lot and I think the simplicity of a close-up portrait of her could be very powerful,” says Nicole.

“The fierceness of her stare speaks loudly to guns rights advocates; that a victim is fighting back!”

Be sure to check out page 21 where we show how the image evolved.

Mother Nature Has the Flu

It’s the height of the flu season and here in the Santa Monica Mountains the winter cold has finally settled in. Enjoy another cover illustration by the gifted Calamity Cole with her depiction of Gaia being treated with love and care by a bevy of astronauts; obviously she is fighting more than the flu. Look long to see all the details.

It’s an Election Year!

And don’t we all know it. The Messenger plans to keep you up to date on all of the local, county and state government news as the country grapples with enormous change and hopefully–intense interest in voting to be heard. We start with our youngest citizens as they learn about running for office themselves.

A Hearty, Hopeful Welcome to 2018

Dear Readers,
Enjoy our first issue of 2018.

And a note of special thanks to our cover illustrator, Calamity Cole, who has brought us some hope, whimsy and persistence to our first issue of the year.

Welcome to the last issue of 2017

Dear Readers,
Enjoy this issue and please “believe in the season” after this tumultuous year. The Messenger team is on hiatus until our next issue January 12, 2018.

We are so grateful for the support of our readers, advertisers and contributors.

Many thanks,
Bonnie & Flavia

A Messenger Sponsored Podcast – “The Chat with Claire Fordham”

Journalist and broadcaster Claire Fordham introduces her latest creative project, a podcast: “The Chat with Claire Fordham.”

Interesting people. Regular contributor to the Messenger Mountain News, Claire Fordham loves writing and reading about them, but hearing them speak with their own unique voices is an even better way to understand their stories and what makes them tick.

Considering her extensive experience as a freelance journalist—she worked for the BBC, ITN and Sky News in the UK and wrote a weekly anecdotal column for Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper, The Sun and currently writes regularly for Huffington Post, The Malibu Times and us, she is an author as well.

In “The Chat with Claire Fordham,” that launched October 9, she shares extended interviews with people she wrote about in the Messenger— the “Good Witch” Coco Blignaut, musical warrior Tony Selvage, creative visionary Kathy Eldon and death midwife Olivia Bareham.

She asks readers to put on their headphones, click on the link and give “The Chat” a listen. “If you like it, share it.”

This post is an excerpt of an article on Fordham’s new podcast; for the full article go to Issue 20, October 22, 2017, page 25

Take a listen of The Chat here on our Podcasts page. You can also listen on Fordham’s website: