Isabel Deitch slid the headdress onto her crown and grinned a giant smile. At her side, her fellow cast member, Caydince Carvalho, added her accessory.

“Timon,” said Deitch.

“Pumba,” added Carvalho.

The two friends will play the well-known duo from the world-renown show, The Lion King, only, with a twist.

“Anytime you’re given a platform it’s a great time to give back,” said show director Katie Combs.

A few dozen kids, all dressed in matching black shirts that read Lion King Kids on the chest, leaped in unison to the changing beats of that familiar music.

“Hakuna Matata!” they shouted.

May 26-28, the kids will perform the show at Cypress Meadows Community Church in Safety Harbor.

Part of the audience will be 8,000 miles away.

“The Lion King show is going to be really special this year because we’re partnering with the Springs of Hope Orphanage in Keyna and we’re going to sing a song with them which will be very cool,” said Deitch.

Njoro, Kenya is home to the Springs of Hope Orphanage, which is a mission project for Cypress Meadows. Kids in the orphanage have been practicing Lion King songs in Swahili and will sing a song with the American children during the upcoming performances.

“Just hearing their stories just kind of makes me feel like I’ve met them,” said Deitch. “I’m so excited.”

The goal of the performance is to raise awareness and, hopefully, funds for the orphanage.

There are three different veins through which the orphanage needs help funding. The general fund for basic needs is always in demand. Springs of Hope Kenya also has a sewing center where adults affected by AIDS earn income by creating items with their hands. The orphanage’s safari experience teaches kids life skills they can utilize upon aging out of the orphanage.

Molly Bail, through an affiliation with Cypress Meadows, started the Springs of Hope Kenya orphanage. Now, the kids back home here in the United States will connect with the children of Africa through song and dance.

“It’s important to me and to us that we expose them to the differences and the similarities also,” said Combs, who teaches the kids from Bay Area Performing Arts and Casting. “They are no less than I am. They are no greater than I am. We are just all the same. God’s creatures and they can get to know them on a personal level.”

That message is what is exciting to the local kids as they prepare for a world-wide performance.

“We don’t know these people as much as we know our friends but we want to protect them because they’re part of our world,” said Carvalho. “Everybody is their own person but everybody deserves the chance to become friends with one another and be together as one.”

Hand-made items from the sewing center in Njoro will be sold at the performances.  Tickets are available for the four performances are:

Friday, May 26: 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 27: 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Sunday, May 28 6 p.m.