MARQUETTE - An undersea world is being brought to life on stage in the Lake Superior Youth Theatre's upcoming production of "The Little Mermaid Jr."
"The Little Mermaid Jr." will keep 83 youth actors, 10 youth crew members and a dozen artistic staffers, parents and volunteers hard at work to bring the production together. The show is based on the Broadway version, and includes all of the familiar songs from the Disney movie, said the musical's artistic director Nikke Nason.
"It's a very difficult show to put on stage. There are a lot of different elements that you have to deal with with most of the show being under the water," Nason said. "There's a lot of lighting, costuming, movement and other various technical and acting challenges with the show and I believe that we've really risen to that level and I think people are going to be very happy with our production of it."
Ethan Bott playing Prince Eric and Jill Vermeulen playing Ariel hold hands during as the chorus sings during a rehearsal of 'The Little Mermaid Jr.' on Tuesday at Graveraet School in Marquette. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
Something unique to this particular production is the large number of dancers and gymnasts. They will be performing will a lot of skills, tricks and dancing that incorporates acrobatics to help emulate the underwater aspects of the performance, Nason said. She said they try to cast as many people as possible - for this production more than 150 people auditioned.
"This has been one of the hardest working and focused cast that we've had," Nason said. "The acting, the singing and the dancing far exceeds what people think of a youth production."
Playing the main character Ariel is Marquette Senior High School Senior Jill Vermeulen. Vermeulen, 17, has been performing in shows with the youth theatre since she was in third grade. This, however, is the first time that she gets to be the princess.
"Every show has something special about it, and just bringing this show to life is going to be really exciting," Vermeulen said. "It's going to be really exciting to do a show that's supposed to be under water and it's happening on stage. It's going to be a fun part to play."
According to Vermeulen, one of the most challenging parts about the show is the fact that most of it takes place under water.
"Just giving it the whole under-the-sea feel is difficult," Vermeulen said. "Plus all the quick (costume) changes is going to be really tough, too, because I have a lot of wardrobe changes."
Playing her co-star, the prince, is Marquette Senior High School junior Ethan Bott. This is the first show that Bott, 16, is doing with the youth theater group.
"It seemed like a good opportunity, something new and something I hadn't done before," Bott said. "So I decided to try out."
Bott has only done productions with the high school and he said there have been some difficulties with the transition.
"It requires a lot more from me as an actor," Bott said. "There's a lot more people and more responsibilities you have to give yourself."
Bott said he's never played a prince before, and being in this role has done a lot for him as an actor because it's something different. He said the most exciting part about the upcoming performances is finishing out the play with a sense of achievement.
"Just knowing that I put everything out there, I worked hard for this, I did the best that I could possibly do and that the hard work that everyone put in has paid off is exciting," Bott said.
Performances are at 7 p.m. Friday and at 1p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday at Kaufman Auditorium in Marquette. According to Nason, tickets are going quickly and it's best to buy them in advance. Tickets are available at all EZ Ticket outlets for $13 for adults and $8 for students, including Northern Michigan University students. Tickets are $3 more at the door.
For more information about the cast, crew and performances visit lsyt.org.
"We hope that everybody will be a part of our world and come see the show," Nason said.
Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org