By Christine Sampson
The Pierson Middle School theater department hopes to make a splash this week with a colorful, energetic production of the Walt Disney stage musical “The Little Mermaid,” which it has been rehearsing since early December.
The cast has poured its heart into daily vocal coaching and individual practice sessions, along with dance lessons and choreography rehearsals and, of course, learning scenes and dialogue. Meanwhile, the crew and producers – including some high school student volunteers and retired Pierson teachers – have transformed the auditorium into an underwater world with designs for a set, lighting, props and costuming fit for the royal family of King Triton himself.
The show’s director and choreographer, Bethany Dellapolla, picked the show not just for all of the opportunities for student performances and visual design, but also for the message.
“I loved the movie as a kid and I remember getting really swept up in the story,” she said. “…It had such a great message. You take away all the spectacle, and at its core it’s about this girl who doesn’t fit in, who feels like she’s a fish out of water, and has the guts and the bravery to go follow her dreams. Plus, we’re bringing together two groups of people, mermaid and man, who are different and learn to accept and appreciate each other.”
The performers say they are having an awesome time putting the show together.
“Everyone’s doing great,” said Lillian McGuire, a seventh-grader who plays the little mermaid herself, Ariel. “It’s kind of like a family. We all love each other and take care of each other. It’s really nice.”
The show is not without its challenges, though.
“A lot of the songs are really fun to sing … they’re interesting, but they’re new. It’s different singing than I normally do. I’ve never really done ballad songs before. It’s fun to have new experiences,” said Hudson Galardi-Troy, an eighth-grader who plays Prince Eric.
The story line differs a little bit from the 1989 Disney film of the same name, so while there are some familiar scenes and songs to be heard, the audience can also expect some new ones.
“In the beginning it was kind of messy, but now, as we’re nearing the show, everyone has improved so much and it’s a really good experience,” Hudson said.
Ryan Brown, an eighth grader who stars as Sebastian, encouraged families to come see the musical.
“The show is definitely different,” he said. “It’s kid friendly, really fun.”
Show times are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Should Thursday’s show be postponed due to inclement weather, it will be rescheduled to Saturday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 each. The school encourages reserving them in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. A small section of tickets will be available at the door on a first-come, first-served basis for each performance.