A magical kingdom beneath the sea

MHS to perform "Disney's The Little Mermaid"

MHS students will soon bring the musical “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” to life, taking on the roles of Ariel, Eric, Sebastian, Flounder, Ursula and a whole lot of fairy tale creatures. The production will hit the stage on Friday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, March 17 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, March 18 at 2:30 p.m. in the Mendota High School auditorium. Tickets are $10 each, reserved seating, and are available at Sports N Stuff, downtown Mendota. (Reporter photo)

MENDOTA – In a magical kingdom beneath the sea, the beautiful young mermaid, Ariel, longs to leave her ocean home to live in the world above. Based on one of Hans Christian Andersen's most beloved stories and a 1989 classic animated film, “Disney's The Little Mermaid” comes to life on stage.

“Under the sea, darling it’s better – down where it’s wetter. Take it from me,” sings Sebastian the crab.

Mendota High School students will bring the two-act musical to shore, taking on the roles of Ariel, Eric, Sebastian, and a whole sea full of fairy tale characters, next week. The family-friendly musical will hit the stage on Friday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, March 17 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 18 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 each, reserved seating, and are available at Sports N Stuff, downtown Mendota.

“Disney's The Little Mermaid” is a love story for the ages. With music by eight-time Academy Award winner Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater and a book by Doug Wright, this delightful tale will capture your heart with its irresistible songs, including "Under the Sea," "Kiss the Girl" and "Part of Your World."

In this fishy fable, Ariel the mermaid yearns to experience life on dry land and pursue the human Prince Eric. Although her father, King Triton, forbids her from going to the surface, she bargains with the evil sea witch, Ursula, to trade her tail for legs. But the bargain is not what it seems as Ursula is plotting revenge against King Triton. Ariel needs the help of her friends, Flounder the fish, Scuttle the seagull and Sebastian the crab to restore order under the sea.

The production will be co-directed by MHS Choir Director Lori Schrock and MHS Drama Sponsor, Courtney Jonsson.

Although little girls will be drawn to the Disney princess, Jonsson noted that the set with Ariel’s grotto and Ursula’s throne, the projection package, music pit and over-the-top costumes are enough to delight audiences of all ages.

“It will definitely be a feast for the senses,” added Schrock.

Theater-goers will walk away with the message that sometimes perceptions are not what they seem.

Schrock also commented, “If you think it is about Ariel having to change for Eric, you’ve missed that message, too.”

Jonsson agreed. In the end, it is about someone loving you for who you are.

Although “The Little Mermaid” is an older Disney film, it is a classic that everyone seems to be familiar with. “The Little Mermaid was one of my favorites when I was younger. I liked the idea of mystical creatures in the ocean,” said MHS senior Natalie Langraf who will play Ursula.

This will be Langraf’s first lead role in an MHS production. “I didn’t realize how fun it would be to play an evil character,” she said.

Langraf is also looking forward to donning Ursula’s costume. “It is big and takes up the character’s persona,” she eluded.

With a large cast and many choreography assignments, Schrock noted that this production gave MHS students a lot of opportunities to be a part of the show.

The cast includes: Payton Klatt as Ariel, the hardheaded yet kind-hearted mermaid; Jacob Stohr as Eric, an adventurous prince; Kole Buckley as Triton, King of the Sea and Ariel’s father; Dekin Walter as Sebastian, a crab and advisor to Triton; Jenna Stanford as Flounder, a fish and Ariel’s friend; Patrick Foley as Scuttle, a loudmouthed seagull; Natalie Landgraf as Ursula, the banished sea witch and sister of King Triton; and Allison Olczak as Flotsam, and Matthew Grenter as Jetsam, eels and Ursula's lackeys.

Additional ensemble members include: Blaire Collins, Leilani Landeros, Gabbi Brown, Maddy Pappas, Joanna Vasquez and Katherine Wohrley as Mersisters, Hunter Gonzales as Grimsby, Fabian Gomez as Pilot, Cole Pursell as Chef Louis, Bobby Arteaga as Windward, and Parker Manning as Leeward.

Rounding out the roles will be the dancers. Principal dancers include: Bobby Arteaga, Gabbi Brown, Blaire Collins, Lily Delgado, Olivia Eddy, Fabian Gomez, Hunter Gonzales, Matthew Grenter, Bonnie Hall, Leilani Landeros, Brooke Lee, Amy Lewis, Lily Linden, Maddy Pappas, Cole Pursell, Emilio Raya, Dylan Saylor, and Katherine Wohrley. Chefs will be played by Lily Delgado, Becca Hadley, Brooke Lee, Dasie Newkirk, Matthew Grenter, Fabian Gomez, Emilio Raya, and Dylan Saylor. Princesses will be played by Rachel Brandner, Blaire Collins, Bonnie Hall, Brooke Lee, Lily Linden, and Devin Wade. Gulls will be played by Gabrielle Brown, Leilani Landeros, Madison Pappas, and Katherine Wohrley. The role of Maids will be played by Rachel Brandner, Bonnie Hall, Lily Linden, and Devin Wade.

Several behind-the-scenes make-up and set crew members will also help to bring the production to life.

There has been a lot of work put into this MHS production, but Landgraf noted that it has been fun and is excited for the performances.

In addition, an under the sea party will be held on Saturday, March 17 from 1:30-3 p.m. in the Mendota High School cafeteria for children to interact with the characters from “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” including Ariel and the all of the sea creatures. The party will include coloring pages, treats, photo opportunities, and a performance of “Under the Sea.” Tickets are $10 each and are available at Sports N Stuff, downtown Mendota.

“I envision a lot of little girls coming dressed up as princesses,” ended Schrock.

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