The Disney musical “The Little Mermaid” is based on the 2008 Broadway production that was based on the animated 1989 film that was based on Hans Christian Andersen’s classic story about a young mermaid who dreams of the world above the sea and gives up her voice and flippers to find love.
As with many Broadway musicals, this one has been converted into a “Jr.” version intended to be performed by schools, youth theaters and community playhouses. It is designed to accommodate the developing voices of young performers, the limited attention span of young audiences, and the need to include as many performers as necessary.
“Inclusion is certainly one of the reasons we chose ‘The Little Mermaid, Jr.’ for Stagecrafters,” said program coordinator Wendy Scott-Koeth, who has cast more than 100 kindergarten through seventh graders for the Jan. 12 and Jan. 13 performances to be held in the Orange High School auditorium in Pepper Pike.
Tali Friedman directs the show, with choreography by Elisha Campbell and musical direction by Celia Lupton.
The production features several seventh-grade Jewish actors, including Ethan Jaffe as Flounder, Anna Wolf as Scuttle, Teddy Prokvolit as King Triton and Cameron Hurwitz as Prince Eric.
The Cleveland Jewish News caught up with these young performers between rehearsals to discuss the show.
CJN: I heard a rumor that all the mermaid scenes in your production are going to be performed underwater to make it more realistic. Is this true?
Cameron: Not that I know of.
Ethan: Sadly, we do not perform underwater. But it would be very cool if we did.
Anna: It’d be a bit hard to tap dance underwater.
Teddy: If you find some way to provide all the actors in these scenes with oxygen tanks, a way to prevent the water from flooding the hall and there is no risk of injury or of death, then I might consider partaking in these scenes. But, to put it in simpler words, no this isn’t true.
CJN: How familiar were you with “The Little Mermaid” movie or musical before rehearsals began?
Ethan: I was pretty familiar with the movie because I watched and loved it when I was a kid.
Anna: Stagecrafters usually runs on a five-year cycle so that your first show as a second grader is also your last as a seventh grader. I played a sea turtle last time.
CJN: Why do you suppose you were cast in the part you were given?
Ethan: Flounder is very much like my own personality. He is a loyal friend that is very positive and outgoing. We both talk fast and are hyper.
Anna: I’m a bit eccentric, like Scuttle.
CJN: Are you playing the character you hoped for when it was announced that Stagecrafters was doing “The Little Mermaid, Jr.”?
Anna: I am playing the character I had hoped for, it’s a really fun part and I get to dance, which is one of my favorite things to do.
Cameron: I got the part I wanted and I get to work with Sabrina Fellinger, who plays Ariel.
Ethan: I believe that whatever part you get, it’s all about the Stagecrafters experience. But, yes, I was hoping for Flounder.
CJN: If you are playing a sea creature or a seagull, what are you doing to prepare for this so your audience will be convinced that you are a fish or a fowl?
Ethan: There is not much to prepare when you are a fish. But my advice would be that you should make sure you know your lines.
Anna: I squawk in my lines and song, which I think is the hardest thing to get used to.
CJN: What is the best thing about your costume? What is the worst thing about your costume?
Cameron: The best thing is the cool purple coat and the worst thing is the pants because they’re really big on me right now. I think they’ll be fixed for the show.
Anna: At the moment, the worst thing about my costume is that I haven’t seen it yet, though the mermaid costumes are pretty.
Teddy: The best thing is the trident, seeing as I am playing King Triton. Unfortunately, I don’t get a bushy white beard (like in the movie).
Ethan: The colors are awesome but the costume is itchy. Still, a big thanks to the costume moms who work many hours to prepare them for us.
Bob Abelman covers professional theater and cultural arts for the Cleveland Jewish News. Follow Bob at Facebook.com/BobAbelman3 or. 2017 Ohio Media Editors best columnist