Curious sea creatures and crustaceans will surface on the stage for Whidbey Children’s Theater performance of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid Jr.”
The Disney classic begins Friday, April 18, and continues through Sunday, April 27.
Director Elizabeth Herbert returns to the children’s theater after six years and is enjoying guiding a new group of students.
Herbert was largely inspired by the fairy tale itself and the fantasies children have of this story.
“I wanted to make it sparkle,” she said. “It’s so well-known, it speaks for itself.”
The classic tale follows Ariel, a princess of the sea, who is fascinated by the human world. After surfacing for a look at life above the water, Ariel saves the handsome Prince Eric from drowning and falls in love. Determined to be with him, Ariel is convinced to visit the devious Ursula for help. She then offers to make Ariel a human in exchange for her voice with the agreement that Eric must kiss Ariel in three days, otherwise she will turn back into a mermaid and belong to Ursula. Ariel accepts the deal and, with the help of her friends, tries to get Eric to “Kiss the Girl” as the famed song goes.
Herbert created three worlds for the set, a dark underworld where Ursula reigns, the sea above and the palace of Prince Eric’s world.
The play includes the talent of 30 young actors ranging from the fifth to 10th grades.
For Grace Callahan, 13, the sparkly costumes and set bring the story to life.
Grace plays two roles as one of Ariel’s sisters and as a “poor, unfortunate soul,” which is part of Ursula’s ensemble.
“I love the costumes and the set; they’re amazing,” she said. “It’s more like a fantasy.”
Grace has performed for the children’s theater several times and said she is really excited to perform her roles on Saturday.
Herbert said she’s enjoyed directing the students and teaching them valuable theater skills such as discipline, cooperation, punctuality and respecting others.
“Theater skills are good to have for anything,” she said. “You learn valuable skills for school, jobs and life.”
Margeaux Scholz plays Ariel in her first leading role. The 14-year-old said her character is full of attitude and wonder for all things human, which she enjoys portraying.
“She’s curious of everything and she’s determined,” she said of her character.
The role can also be challenging at times, but she enjoys playing difficult moments like acting without being able to speak, she explained.
Libby Hawkins, 14, plays Ariel’s reluctant friend Sebastian the crab. Libby has been in more than 15 plays at the children’s theater and this is her first leading role.
She said she has enjoyed developing her character more than she anticipated. Libby added a Jamaican accent and created her own backstory for the crustacean character.
The role is also physically demanding for a lot of the sea creatures, including Sebastian who has to stay low to the ground and scurry to walk.
Libby said she’s enjoyed working with the cast, which includes people with whom she has grown up acting.
“It’s a dream cast,” she said. “There’s different acting and different personalities to bring the show to life.”