Amy Carter, director of choral activities at Heritage middle and high schools, said she chose “Mermaid” because it's fun for all ages.
“The rights just got released last spring, so I knew it was something that hadn't been done a lot, and it would be a crowd-pleaser.” Carter said. “Several kids went on a trip to New York a few years ago back when they were in middle school and we saw it on Broadway, so it's fun that they're getting to do it on stage now.”
Aside from the performances, Carter said they are planning a special “under the sea brunch” for the kids in the community. Saturday morning, Nov. 16 at 10 a.m., they are hosting “Muffins with Mermaids,” where children 10 and under can purchase tickets to have muffins and juice onstage with the characters.
Mermaid’s cast is a blend of veterans and newcomers to the stage, which Carter said had provided a great opportunity for new friendships to form.
“I think it's been a real positive thing for the kids to build relationships between the grades,” Carter said. “They're like a big family now and that will continue even after the show is over. I've had a lot of these kids since middle school and I've tried to instill a challenge in them to be their best and work hard, so it's also been a real blessing for me to see them grow over the years. There are a lot of seniors in the cast.”
Creating water and “flow” was one of the biggest challenges, Carter said. Several members of the cast learned to wear “wheelies” (tennis shoes with wheels) to give the illusion of “swimming” through the water as they skate across the stage. She also said two of the cast members are in the Heritage High band color guard and helped choreograph water scenes, incorporating the use of large, shimmering blue flags in the background.
Starring in the lead role of young Ariel is sophomore Samantha Ward. Carter praised Ward for her perseverance over the years.
“She absolutely 'wowed' us,” Carter said, referring to the five-member casting committee. “She's had several smaller roles and tried out for solos since middle school, and she would always ask me what she could do to improve. When she asked me for advice to prepare for ‘Mermaid’ over the summer, she really took the suggestions to heart. She worked on her vocals and confidence. You don't necessarily assume a senior will get the lead role, but she's only a sophomore. We just didn't expect it. It was very evident that she was the one.”
Based on the classic tale by Hans Christian Andersen, the film and musical relay the story of a young restless mermaid named Ariel, who has always longed to be a part of the human world. When the evil sea witch Ursula grants her the opportunity to sprout legs and go after the heart of Prince Eric, she jumps at the opportunity.
“Little Mermaid” officially opened on Broadway in January 2008 and closed in August 2009, after 685 performances and 50 previews. The musical's book is by Doug Wright, music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman (written for the film) and new lyrics by Glenn Slater. The play received 2008 Tony Award nominations for Best Original Score Written for the Theatre and Best Lighting Design of a Musical.
Carter said next on the list for performances is “School House Rock Live,” based on the classic, educational public broadcasted series.
Heritage High School
“The Little Mermaid” musical, Nov. 16 & 17, 6 p.m.
“Muffins with Mermaids,” brunch, Nov.17, 10 a.m.
Tickets: $7, adults; $5, students/senior citizens,
$15 for combo brunch/show
Heritage High School auditorium