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'Little Mermaid' brings new music to the Andersen fairy tale

For four high-school students, landing the leading role in one of four performances of "The Little Mermaid" is a dream come true.

Mari Boyle, a junior at Greensburg Salem; Missy Graf, a senior at Greensburg Central; Nicole Stouffer, a senior at Mt. Pleasant; and Jessica Kotik, a freshman at Penn Trafford will share time in the spotlight as Muriel in Stage Right student company's musical adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.

The story line is similar to the Disney-movie version of the story about a mermaid who braves the forces of a sea witch to win her prince. Stage Right artistic director Anthony Marino adapted the film script for the stage with original music by David Mahokey of Connellsville, a Point Park University student, and Greg Keresten of Greensburg, a Seton Hill University student.

"I always wanted to be a Disney princess," says Graf. "I know it sounds really corny, but it's true."

"It's my favorite Disney movie," Stouffer says.

Kotik, who has been acting in Stage Right productions since age 4, when she played a munchkin in "The Wizard of Oz," says she's never portrayed a princess, and she is looking forward to her role.

"I'm definitely a Disney child," she says. "I love to make people forget about life for a while and enjoy the story. Little kids will love this show."

Kotik, the youngest Muriel in the cast, says she and the other three princesses all get along and help each other rehearse.

Because the adaptation features all new songs and not the familiar Disney score, "we have to find more time to learn the songs, and we don't have a recording to listen to," Kotik says. "We record ourselves at practice."

For Boyle, the character Muriel "is a fun role to play, and the songs are so beautiful. I like that she's a mermaid and is different from the other princesses." Part of the fun also involves the opportunity to "swim" onstage while wearing rollerblades.

Even though the Muriel role is split among four princesses, the production has only one Prince Adam, played by Cody Petit of Valley High School, who will appear in all four performances.

Sharing the villain role of Urliza the Sea Witch are Carolyn Cole, Jeannette High School; Macy Kostovny and Anna Stewart, Greensburg Salem High School; and Lindsey Ferguson, Latrobe High School.

Marino says the student company production features a cast of nearly 80 young people, ages 5 to 18, who take classes at Stage Right's school for the performing arts.

"The biggest challenges were the size of the theater with 80 actors and doing a show that happens on sea and on land simultaneously," he says. "We've overcome these issues by using every inch of theater, in front of the stage, in the aisles -- everywhere." The production will feature underwater projections, "floating" fish and costumes created by the company's crew of costumers and volunteers.

Renata Marino is choreographer, Cindy Baltzer is musical director and Mark Kissner is set designer. Optional luncheons at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday are available for an additional charge of $8 for adults and $5 for children. Reservations are required.

Additional Information:

'The Little Mermaid'

Presented by: Stage Right

When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Admission: $10, additional charge for luncheons before matinee performances, reservations required

Where: Greensburg Garden & Civic Center, 951 Old Salem Road, Greensburg

Details: 724-832-7464 or website

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