The Phoenix Reporter & Item (http://www.phoenixvillenews.com)

“The Little Mermaid Jr.” takes audience under the sea at Phoenixville Middle School


By Heather Tyrrell, editor@phoenixvillenews.com

Monday, March 4, 2013

PHOENIXVILLE — Ariel, her friends and other sea creatures are taking over the stage at Phoenixville Area Middle School.
Students will be performing “Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.” on March 7, 8 and 9 at the middle school’s new auditorium. The production is the first musical at the new middle school. It follows the story from the film about a mermaid who wants to be human.
The 200 cast and crew members have been rehearsing since January, said the musical’s director, Amy Darby.
“The Little Mermaid” was chosen because of families’ familiarity with the film, Darby said.
“We start looking for productions in June and July,” she said. “We were thinking about the new building and we wanted to do something families could enjoy.”
When the selection crew saw the script for the production was released last March, that was the obvious choice, Darby said.
Darby noted that the production was really the students’ show.
“They make the sets. They run the sound and lights,” she said. “Once (the production) is up and running, it’s hands off for the adults.”
The production without a doubt is a colorful one and the production crew has worked on incorporating that element into the set.
Darby said it was challenging to strike a balance between conceptual and literal design elements.
It’s taken a creative mindset to create the visual elements for “The Little Mermaid.” For example, clear bubble like umbrellas decorated with material serve as jellyfish.
The costumes are also very colorful. Darby said two mothers help make the costumes. Other costumes are bought.
Darby said her favorite part about being involved with the production is instilling confidence in the students and seeing them grow.
“I always tell them, ‘You can do it,’ but I don’t think they always believe it,” she said. Darby said she likes it when the show is done and the students can see how far they’ve come and that they could put on a successful show.
Some of the students may be getting nervous for the show, but not for the pair of eighth graders that plays the eels, Flotsam and Jetsam.
Alaina DeLeone (Flotsam) and Erica Sposato (Jetsam) said they are used to performing because they have been in productions since they were in middle school.
DeLeone has played a villain before. She was the wicked witch in the fall production of “Wizard of Oz.”
She has been enjoying the experience of the spring musical.
“Rehearsals have been going really well,” DeLeone said. “They are really organized.”
“I like acting and singing,” she added.
Sposato has been enjoying her villain part too.
“You get to be all mean,” she said. “If you have all kinds of emotions, you can use those in your acting.”
Sposato said she also liked getting closer to her friends and making new friends during rehearsals.
“Miss Darby is really great to work with,” she added.
Sixth grader Hannah Sands plays a lagoon animal in “The Little Mermaid.”
Sands said this isn’t the first time she has been in a show. She was in her second grade musical.
Her favorite song from this production is “She’s in Love.” Sands said the most challenging part of being in the musical is remembering everything she has to do. She is glad she gets to work with Darby because of her creative ideas.
“It’s really fun because of everything she thought of to make the musical how great it is.”
Music is by Alan Menken. The lyrics are by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater and the book is by Doug Wright. The music was adapted and arranged by David Weinstein. The show features songs from the film and the Broadway production.
For tickets, visit www.seatyourself.biz/pams or the Spring Spectacular webpage. Tickets will be available for purchase in the PAMS auditorium lobby the night of the show.
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