What does theater do for young performers? The stage. The lights. A packed house with hundreds in attendance. “It builds confidence,” said Diane Hancock, director of Windham Center Stage Theater’s presentation of Disney’s Little Mermaid, Jr.
After weeks of rehearsals on an empty stage, excitement started to build last Friday as 71 young stars of Little Mermaid, Jr. arrived at the Windham Town Hall gym. The reason for the excitement was the stage for the production was now adorned with a full, colorful set, the work of theater veterans Giovan Corsetti and Deb Martin. Ocean waves rose on both sides of King Eric’s ship, which commanded center stage. Nearby, Triton’s stately castle overlooked Ariel’s watery grotto, setting the stage for the annual children’s performance.
The Little Mermaid production features two separate casts of 35 performers, ages 7 to 13, children in grades two to eight. Hancock says the double cast, in addition to affording unlimited understudies, gives more opportunities for kids to assume major roles, as well as additional performances. There will be 12 shows over three weeks.
The 90 minute musical is a big commitment for the kids and their families. Hancock said, “It’s so much fun to watch them after so much work. They are on stage, under the lights, in front of hundreds – it builds confidence.”
The story is the familiar tale of a jilted young girl who ignores the advice of her father to pursue her immediate wants, only to learn it comes at a high price. Hancock said the show is a magical high energy journey, set on land and under the sea, fueled with emotional highs and lows, memorable music and entertaining dance routines. Highlights include Sebastian’s heartfelt reggae song Under the Sea and Ariel’s inspiring ballad Part of your World.
The play is produced by Heidi Doucette and Gail White with musical direction by Patrick Martin and choreography by Shelbi Wassack.
“We want to fill the auditorium,” Hancock said, because “the kids really work off the audience.”
Patrons can expect refreshments and a 50/50 raffle during intermission. Proceeds will benefit Windham Center Stage Theater. Tickets are $10 adults, $8 for seniors and students. Show dates include six performances for each cast: Cast A: March 14, 20, 28 (7 p.m.) March 15, 21, 29 (2 p.m.). Cast B: March 13, 21, 27 (7 p.m.) 14, 22, 28 (2 p.m.).