A roaring time
UF medical students perform “The Lion King” for pediatric patients.
hen the animals receive their cues, a stampede of sorts begins, and a chorus of voices erupts. Lions lead the charge, followed by prancing hyenas and an elegant elephant. A frog hops behind a parading monkey and a galloping zebra. As the players take their places, a baboon steps to the front of the room and holds up a lion cub to the tune of “Circle of Life.”
These characters brought a piece of the African jungle to the pediatric inpatient unit of UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital last year. The actors — a group of UF medical students — swapped stethoscopes and white coats for face paint and feathers in a performance of Disney’s “The Lion King.”
Many patients watched with their families, and doctors, nurses and other staff members peeked through the doorway to catch a glimpse of the show. At the close of the 90-minute performance, several cast members visited the intensive care unit to bring cheer to more patients.
The performers were part of a group called the White Coat Company, an ensemble of UF medical students with a flair for the theatric. About 30 students were involved in the show, with some constructing scenery or making props and others arranging vocal parts, playing instruments or designing choreography. The students practiced four days a week for four months to perfect the performance and often gathered on weekends, squeezing bites of pizza between costume-making sessions.
Photos by Mindy C. Miller
“The cast and crew put forth an immense amount of time on this show while still maintaining their grades and keeping a positive attitude,” said third-year medical student and show director Kara Ruder.
In addition to their performance at the children’s hospital, the students also put on a show for friends and family in the Health Professions, Nursing, Pharmacy Complex auditorium and for residents at the Tacachale Center, a local facility for adults with developmental disabilities.
Since its creation in 2005, the White Coat Company has performed plays such as “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin.”