Who doesn't love Disney's The Little Mermaid?
Ariel's adorable, a fiercely loyal chum to her many friends and the apple of her daddy's eye.
The Academy of Children's Theatre is tackling the stage version of the movie, which opens May 10, and it's proving to be a challenge because the story takes place mostly beneath the sea and all the characters are sea creatures.
"I love the challenges Little Mermaid presents the cast, crew and us directors," said Josh Darby, who is co-directing with Janice McIntyre. "This has been the biggest technical challenge I've ever faced. There is so much set, lights, hair, makeup, sound and costume obstacles. Then putting it all together in a cohesive vision has been one amazing challenge."
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The play has Quinn Hanrahan, 15, portraying Ariel.
Ariel's dad is the sea king Triton, who doesn't share his daughter's fascination with the human world above the sea. He forbids his daughter to venture to the human world to satisfy her curiosity.
Then one day, Ariel witnesses a shipwreck and ends up rescuing a young man of royal birth. She is at once smitten with the handsome prince.
The 30-plus cast includes Jayson Agli, 16, as King Triton; Dakota Musick, 17, as Prince Eric; Hailey Howard, 14, as Flotsam; Yzabelle Tow, 15, as Jetsam; Whitney Holland, 15, as Adella; Boston Taylor, 15, as Allana; Anjuli Herr, 15, as Andrina; Hannah Fewel, 13, as Aquata; Ashley Zerker, 15, as Arista; and Rose York, 14, as Atina.
"We chose our actors based on their ability to sing, of course, but also on their abilities to show us the character through their movement and expressions," McIntyre said. "Some students can read beautifully but are still when asked to show how their character might move through the ocean or communicate with other sea creatures.
"Every actor in our cast makes me smile when I see them onstage because they sell their character well and are having fun."
The directors also praised Nathan Grant, the student they brought in to help direct.
"He is always there ready to go with great ideas and input," Darby said. "He has a great eye for direction."
Cameron and Tina Miller, parent volunteers, helped design an impressionistic undersea world full of free-form shapes painted in aquas, blues and purples, McIntyre said. "One piece is nearly 13 feet tall," she said.
Another parent, Lisa Howell, helped design props for the show with her husband Clint.
"They came up with trays of mouth-watering seafood for the kitchen staff to parade around," McIntyre said. "It's hard to imagine it's not real food. We're having so much fun, and this show will reflect that fun and energy, as well as all the hard work every person has put into it."
Curtain time is 7 p.m. for The Little Mermaid, which runs May 10-11, 17-18, 24-25 with a 3 p.m. matinee May 11 and 18 in the ACT Theatre, 213 Wellsian Way, Richland.
Tickets cost $13 for adults, $10 for students and seniors and $7 for children 5 and younger. Tickets are available at www.academyofchildrenstheatre.org or at the door.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; email@example.com; Twitter: @dorioneal