Chandler thespians diving into beloved ‘Mermaid’ - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler thespians diving into beloved ‘Mermaid’

April 4th, 2019 development
Chandler thespians diving into beloved ‘Mermaid’

By COLLEEN SPARKS, Managing Editor

Many Chandler and Gilbert children and teens are hoping to make a splash when they dive into the popular musical “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” at Limelight Performing Arts.
A cast of 44 young actors is going to perform the classic love story about Ariel, a mermaid who longs to be with human being Prince Eric in the world above the sea. The kids will take the stage April 10-14 at Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St.
Audiences can expect to ride a wave of musical and visual stimulation with elaborate and complex costumes and choreography, said Emma England, artist director of Limelight Performing Arts in Gilbert.
“It’s exactly the movie that everyone remembers and loves, but it’s been given new music and moments,” England said. “It’s so much fun. I have known for more than a year that I wanted to direct this show.”
She said the musical features “more songs and meat to the plot” than “Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.” that Limelight Performing Arts brought to life six years ago.
The audience at Mesa Arts Center can expect the fin-tastic songs from the movie including “Under the Sea,” “Kiss the Girl” and “Part of Your World.”
“‘Under the Sea’ is like an extended, five-minute experience,” England said. “Three of us are designing costumes. We’ve got puppets. There’s a huge tap number in act two. We’re really making it our own. There’s some really good talent in the show.”
Several young performers will play the roles of water and dancers will move under and over organza fabric as if they are in the water in one scene. The children and teens wear Heelys, a brand of shoes with wheels in them, to glide across the stage in the scenes where the characters are in the sea.
The kids are soaking up the choreography, music and lines of the humorous, romantic and sometimes dramatic tale and several have already gotten their feet wet in musicals in the past.
Elliot Burns, 14, of Chandler, an eighth-grader at Arizona College Prep – Erie Campus, plays Allana, one of Ariel’s “mersisters” (mermaid sisters), as well as a princess and a maid. She is also part of the ensemble.
“I like that there’s so many different parts and it’s fun to be any role in the show,” Elliot said. “There are lots of good songs. It’s really fun.”
She said singing is “more my thing” but she also likes dancing.
She said Allana is the “sweetest of the mersisters” and believes the audience will like the colorful costumes and how interesting “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” musical is when they watch it.
Ciara Bogan, 12, of Chandler and Ahwatukee, also enjoys playing multiple roles in the musical. She plays several parts in the ensemble including a flying fish, a maid, a sailorette and reed-grass, and she is the understudy for Windward, a trumpet fish.
A sixth-grader at Kyrene Middle School, Ciara is spreading her wings, or rather fins, in the musical.
“It’s a lot of dancing and singing and I normally do plays, so it’s fun to go outside of my limits,” she said. “I always loved Ariel. Ariel was like, my favorite princess. She’s just a strong female.”
Ciara said her flying fish costume makes her arms “two times my normal size.”
“Sometimes you hit people because they’re so long,” she said. “It’s ruffled. It’s very creative and the set is like amazing. The costumes are bright. You can tell how much effort was put into it.”
Zoey Hart, 12, of Chandler, a seventh-grader at Santan Junior High School, also likes “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” story and choreography. She plays a maid and a princess (Cinderella) and she is in the ensemble.
“I like that it’s like a movie that I’ve grown up on,” Zoey said. “It’s about a princess and prince. I really like to be a maid because I get to take care of Ariel. It’s really cool choreography and it’s really fun.”
She is looking forward to performing at Mesa Arts Center, and said the audience will find a lot to like about the youth version of the musical.
“I think they’ll like that the songs are good, the acting’s good and the choreography’s really fun,” she said. “It’s a really cool venue.”
Sophia Sanchez, 12, of Chandler, a seventh-grader at Santan Junior High School, is a water dancer and performs as a flat fish and squid as part of the ensemble.
“It’s really fun,” she said. “You get to spend a lot of time with your friends. There’s a lot to it. The costumes are amazing and the sets. I love it.”
Chandler sisters Mason Todd, 11, a fifth-grader at Islands Elementary School and Tara Todd, 6, a first-grader at Gilbert Elementary School, also like the choreography and costumes in the show.
Mason plays a turtle in the ensemble and Tara plays different animals including a guppy and bird in the ensemble.
“It has surprises to it,” Mason said. “It’s my mom’s favorite movie. The dances are fun and sometimes they’re hard, but they’re fun to do.”
Tara said the show is “cool” and she probably likes “getting to dance a lot and play different parts” the most about being in the cast.
Avery Jimenez, 7, of Chandler, a second-grader at Kyrene de la Mirada Leadership Academy, is one of the younger cast members but she takes on a leadership role in the ensemble. She said she plays several roles including a bird, duck and guppy.
“It’s a super good story,” Avery said. “I love the happy ending. I love dancing.”
She has been dancing since age 2 and said she likes Ariel because she said “she’s pretty and kind.”
Gabrielle Jimenez, Avery’s mother, said performing in the show at Limelight is a great experience for Avery. “She’s taking a leadership role,” Gabrielle said. “It’s given her more responsibilities. It’s a very nice little community.”
Adults play big roles in directing the sea life in the musical. The music director and co-director for “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” is Corinne Walker and Wendy Crawford is the stage manager.
Limelight Performing Arts rehearses for its shows at Studio 3 Performing Arts, which is at 511 W. Guadalupe Road in Gilbert. Studio 3 is the business that provides lessons in acting, singing, dance, musical theater and musical instruments.
Limelight is a nonprofit youth theater that holds its shows’ rehearsals at Studio 3, but all youths are encouraged to audition and participate in Limelight productions. England is owner of Studio 3 Performing Arts.
“Disney’s The Little Mermaid” will be performed at 6:30 p.m. April 10; 6:30 p.m. April 11; 7 p.m. on April 12; at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on April 13 and 2 p.m. on April 14 at Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St.


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