Something’s fishy about Chandler theater’s next musical - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Something’s fishy about Chandler theater’s next musical

July 8th, 2019 SanTan Sun News
Something’s fishy about Chandler theater’s next musical



Children and teens swayed, slithered and danced in smooth movements to the song “Poor Unfortunate Souls” as they practiced portraying an evil sea witch, her tentacles and eels.

They were rehearsing the Chandler Youth Theater’s presentation of “Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.” and one of the musical’s many animated, creative scenes in human and sea creature roles.

The company will present the musical July 26-28 at Seton Catholic Preparatory, 1150 N. Dobson Road. Rehearsals are at Chandler Youth Theater, part of ImprovMANIA Comedy Club at 250 S. Arizona Ave.

About 40 actors ages 7 to 17 will aim to make a splash in the classic tale about a mermaid named Ariel and her aquatic friends based on Hans Christian Andersen’s popular story and also portrayed in a well-known animated movie.

“It’s just magical, hardcore Disney magic,” said Audrey Ryan, director of productions at Chandler Youth Theater and director of “Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.”

“I’m excited to design the set. It’s a spectacle. It’s gonna be really cute,” she added. “We have so much talent.”

The musical gives more than one young actor a chance to play big roles in different performances.

Sofia Lindsey, 13, of Chandler, an eighth-grader at Horizon Honors Secondary School in Ahwatukee, plays Ariel in the shows at 5 p.m. on July 26 as well as those at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. on July 28.

“I have always loved Ariel as a kid,” Sofia said. “She speaks her mind and I think that’s a really important trait for people to see.”

While it is her first show at Chandler Youth Theater, it will be the 10th show she has performed in around the Valley. Sofia has acted in Limelight Performing Arts musicals and in a theater in Ahwatukee.

“Our cast I think is just so cool and so amazing,” she said. “It’s super welcoming. I love this and I’m so glad I get to spend my summer doing something I love.”

Sofia’s best friend, Eliana Anglada, 13, of Phoenix, who will also be in eighth grade at Horizon Honors Secondary School this fall, plays Ariel in the 5 p.m. July 27 show and serves as the understudy for the lead character in the other performances.

“Usually I get the more out-of-the-box characters,” Eliana said. “It’s like a good change of pace. It’s more sweet.”

She is also enjoying the experience of acting at Chandler Youth Theater.

“The directors are so amazing,” Eliana said. “They’re so nice. I like how they do it with you.”

She started acting in musicals at age 6 and loves diving into her role as Ariel in the classic show.

“It’s the best show ever,” Eliana said. “She’s my favorite princess. I get to share it with my best friend.”

She added that Sofia helped her get into acting.

One of the girls playing Ursula is Alina Pierzga, 13, of Chandler, an eighth-grader at Chandler Online Academy. She will play this role on July 27 and at the 5 p.m. July 28 shows.

Embodying the mean underwater witch is a kick for the teen.

“It’s so fun,” Alina said. “It’s a big change. It’s a big learning experience.”

She also enjoys the plot in “Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.”

“I like the storyline,” Alina said. “It’s really like a family piece, just the story of Ariel finding herself. I think our cast is really great.”

Anna Iverson, 18, of Chandler, who just graduated from Chandler High School, plays Ursula in the performances on July 26 and July 28 at 2 p.m. When she is not playing Ursula she plays Aquata, one of Ariel’s sisters.

Anna has performed off and on in musicals for several years and wanted to do something with her sister, Amy Iverson, 12, who is in the ensemble for “Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.” this summer. In the fall Anna will go to The University of Arizona.

“It is so fun,” Anna said. “It is one of those larger-than-life (characters). Being the villain is always fun. This is one of my favorite Disney movies. I’ve always liked the songs from this.”

She said she likes her cast mates and does not mind being one of the oldest.

“These kids are really funny,” Anna said. “They’re talented and well-behaved.”

J.P. Garcia, 13, of Chandler, an eighth-grader at St. Mary-Basha Catholic School, also is soaking up the fun of playing an evil character. He plays Jetsam, a vicious eel, and also plays a sailor in the musical.

Dominic D’Amico will play Flotsam, the other main eel, as well as a sailor, for all the shows.

“I just like the directing of characters and the cast,” J.P. said. “The directors are very supportive and they help us a lot. You’re surrounded by people and it’s fun to be in someone else’s place in life.”

Paul Burnsed, 11, of Tempe, a Pueblo Middle School student, is having a great time playing a sailor, an eel/tentacle and a member of a sea band: “Chub, who plays the tub” in the musical number “Under the Sea.”

“It’s a talent I have I guess,” Paul said. “I like just expressing my outer self and telling everyone what I’m made of.”

He has danced in recitals before and likes seeing how everything flows in rehearsals for the musical.

“It seems really brilliant,” Paul said.

Whitney Pierzga, 11, of Chandler, Alina’s sister, plays Flounder, a fish, at the 5 p.m. July 26 performance, as well as the 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. shows on July 28. Cassie Cruz, the understudy, will play Flounder at 5 p.m. on July 27.

Whitney, a student at Chandler Traditional Academy — Independence Campus, said she likes playing Flounder because he transforms in the musical.

“He’s super shy,” Whitney said. “He comes out of his shell. I love the ‘Little Mermaid.’ It’s one of my favorites because it has a lot of good songs.”

Caitlyn Deely, 18, of Chandler, who will be going to Arizona State University to study dance in the fall, is the choreographer for the musical. She recently graduated from Arizona Connections Academy, an online K-12 school.

“I love working with kids and dancing,” Deely said. “I’ve done musicals all my life.”

Maya Chavez, 21, of Tempe, a student at Rio Salado College studying the arts, is assistant director and music director and Marie Tucker, 22, of Tempe, a theater student at ASU, is the stage manager.

“I grew up on this show,” Chavez said. “I love it. This is my era. It’s very musical.”