RP children’s cast set to stage ‘Little Mermaid Jr.’
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By Kaydon Coburn  December 7, 2012 12:00 am

“I think people underestimate kids theater. These kids can sing and they can act. We’ve been working all semester to show that. I am expecting people to see a lot of talent on that stage,” says musical director Ashley Kimball.

Kimball is referring to McGrath’s Performing Arts Academy’s upcoming children’s performances of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid Jr.” Kimball, an enthusiastic General Theater Arts major in her junior year at Sonoma State University, was recruited by program director Amy Lynn McGrath to direct the successful children’s Broadway adaptation.

“Both Ashley and I are big fans of The Little Mermaid (movie). I grew up on the movie. I have known it most of my whole life,” states McGrath, also the  academy founder/artistic director.

“This will be a really fun, entertaining, child friendly show. I do shows by kids for kids. It’s really family-oriented. They (audiences) can expect the whole family to enjoy the show,” McGrath said.

McGrath’s Academy’s fall semester musical theater program is centered on this recently released children’s version of The Little Mermaid Jr. The length and scope of the performances are adapted and geared for younger audiences from the original 2008 Broadway production. This children’s stage adaptation is one of few first being performed in Northern California, according to McGrath. The show will also feature songs “Part of Your World,” “She’s in Love” and the Oscar-award winning “Under the Sea.”
The talented young cast, which ranges in ages from 4-16, has only been meeting once a week for 3½  hours on Saturdays. Rehearsals have been going since mid-September, and in addition to the limited days of rehearsing, the 15-member cast is playing 26 roles in the performances. The multiple-role cast members are supported with two backstage hands of the same ages, and are experienced performers from all areas in Sonoma County.

“Hannah Morris, 12, plays three roles; Scuttle, Chef Louie, and one of the Mer Sisters. “My favorite part is Chef Louie because he’s the craziest one of all,” she said. “He loves chopping fish in half. He’s insane with it. He loves it.”

Lead actor Jesus Salazar, 10, who plays Prince Eric, says “Prince Eric wants to have an adventure. He’s adventurous…until he meets Ariel – he doesn’t want to marry some girl he doesn’t know.”

Faith Harvey, 10, plays the star role Ariel. “She’s (Ariel) nice and mischievous. Ariel wants to be a human really bad. She has lots of friends in the sea and on the surface.”

If being director for a children’s musical performance was not enough of a challenge, Kimball also serves as the costume and stage prop designer.

“We’ve had to do a lot of dying our own shirts and things like that. Figuring out how to do the mermaid’s tail is definitely one of the biggest challenges,“ Kimball reveals. “I need a mermaid’s tail they (performers) can get out of quickly, dance in, and that looks good. I finally decided on (using) pajama pants from the thrift store. They turned out great!”

Billed as “nothing short of extraordinary”, McGrath’s Performing Arts Academy’s production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr. will be playing Dec. 14 at 7 p.m.; Dec. 15 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and Dec. 16 at 1 p.m. at SSU’s Ives Hall 101-Warren Auditorium. Tickets are $9 and may be purchased at the SSU student box office.

For more information, call 664-2382, 541-6101 or go online at www.mcgrathperformingarts.com.

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