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Trinity to present 'Little Mermaid Jr.'

Press Photos by Linda Sailer The cast sings “Kiss the Girl” in a rehearsal scene on Wednesday from the Trinity High School musical production of “The Little Mermaid Jr.”

By Linda Sailer

Trinity High School’s auditorium stage will be transformed into a magical kingdom beneath the sea, when Disney’s “The Little Mermaid Jr.” opens on Friday.

The 60-minute musical is based on the 2008 Broadway production and the 1989 animated feature film.

Director Janel Schiff chose the musical because of its audience appeal.

“I knew it was a favorite of my students,” she said. “We’ve talked about the show for a while and they were excited.”

“The Little Mermaid Jr.” takes place in a magical kingdom beneath the sea where a beautiful young mermaid named Ariel longs to leave her ocean home to live in the world above. But first, she will have to defy her father, the king of the sea, escape the clutches of an evil sea witch and convince a prince that she is the girl with the perfect voice.

The set design has been a challenge for the stage crew because it needed to represent scenes under the sea, on the beach and in a ship, Schiff said.

Nearly 40 students in grades seven through 12 are participating as cast and crew. By tradition, Trinity presents a musical every other year, but she made an exception this year.

“I decided with the talent of my senior class, I could capitalize on back-to-back musicals,” she said.

The classic Disney title contains the songs from the animated feature film as well as three new songs from the Broadway show.

“Every number is so much fun and all the music is fun,” Schiff said. “It has humor, a little romance and certainly a lot of color.”

In addition to the flamboyant costumes, Schiff utilizes gobos, moving lights and the cyclorama — the large curtain behind the stage for visual effects.

Sarah Weiler was cast as Ariel, while Colton Steiner is the prince.

Weiler appreciates the opportunity to play Aerial, because the show was one of her favorite childhood movies. It’s also given her the opportunity to sing, dance and wear beautiful costumes.

Leading characters also  include Emily Jilek as Flounder, Katelyn Dockter as Scuttle, Gretchen Weir as Ursula, Molly Schweitzer as Sebastian. Others are Philip Fisher as the Pilot, Lance Reiter as Grimsby, Ben Hapip as the King, Lauren Senescall as Seahorse, Ryan Fahy as Flotsam, Phillip Fisher as Jetsam, Sarah Strube as Chef Louis and Brae Bruce as Carlotta.

Gretchen Weir describes her character, the sea witch Ursula, as a very flamboyant character.

“She’s very loud and dramatic and she has fun costumes to wear,” Weir said.

She encourages the entire family to attend the performance.

“There’s a lot of music and big dance numbers, and there’s beautiful colors and a great sound set,” she said.

Molly Schweitzer, who plays Sebastian the crab, said her character is assigned to take care of Aerial so that she doesn’t get into human trouble.

“But she does get into a lot of trouble,” she said. “Aerial gets mad at me, but I’m just trying to keep her safe.”

She said the performance brings back memories of her own childhood.

“I’m excited to have two younger siblings in the audience — I hope I can make them smile,” she said.

Emily Jilek, who plays Flounder, has enjoyed the opportunity to perform on stage with her brother, Isaiah, who is a seventh-grader.

“I get to share my last musical with my little brother and that is really cool,” she said.

“It’s been really fun,” Isaiah added. “I like it because there’s a lot of action.”

“The lead roles are played by students with considerable stage experience since I have worked with many of them since they were seventh graders,” Schiff said. “They have been enthusiastic about this show since it is a childhood favorite for many.”

As a special treat, 300 students will receive light-up wands on opening night. Ariel will wait for the audience to help her recover her voice as they hold up their wand.

Performances are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6-7 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8 in the Trinity High School Auditorium.

After Sunday’s performance, students are invited to meet and greet the characters in the auditorium.