Generations bring 'Mermaid' to McKeesport Little Theater stage
McKeesport Little Theater will bring the undersea world to life during two weekends of “Disney's The Little Mermaid Jr.”
Incorporating all of the songs from the Academy Award-winning animated Disney film as well as three numbers from the Broadway show, the junior musical is a familiar story for all.
“It's a timeless classic that everyone knows,” said McKeesport Area senior Jennifer Young, who performs in the lead role of Ariel, a beautiful mermaid princess who longs to leave her ocean home to explore the human world.
“This story is something that parents love, and they pass it on to their kids,” Jennifer said. “To be a part of something I grew up watching is amazing.”
With adults making cameos in elder roles and kids as young as 4 suited up to be Sea Snails, it's evident that “The Little Mermaid” storyline appeals to generations.
The story follows Ariel through her woes of life under the sea, exhilarating new experiences on the shore above, and events that lead Ariel and King Triton to realize that the bond between father and daughter is stronger than a difference of opinion.
Father-and-daughter acting team Jeff and Maria Veltre are making memories to form their own special bond on the McKeesport Little Theater stage.
Taking on the roles of King Triton and Ursula the Sea Witch, “Disney's The Little Mermaid Jr.” is one of several shows in which they've collaborated.
“Back in the '80s, I did this with my dad,” Jeff Veltre recalled. “I still remember being in ‘Oliver' and having a great time doing it.
“When Maria showed an interest in the theater, I came back. It's something we can do together, and that's three generations having a good time at this theater in McKeesport.”
Maria, a Woodland Hills freshman, said the experience is nothing short of “awesome.”
“Now, I know how my dad felt with his dad here,” she said. “Not to mention that it's always nice to have someone to practice with at home.”
At McKeesport Little Theater, that family experience is something that carries over from true relatives to good friends and even those who simply know one another through stage work.
“Prince Eric (Dylan Baker) is my boyfriend, and Flounder (Joey Young) is my little brother,” Jennifer said. “There are other people here who I've known forever. We're a group of people who come from a bunch of different places, and we all bring something different to the table.”
Dorothy Fallows, who has been involved with McKeesport Little Theater for 30 years and directed the junior performances for nearly 20, said watching young actors bond is part of what makes the program so rewarding.
“To see these kids come in scared, not being able to speak loud and really being so self-conscious and then to watch them develop self-confidence … It's amazing,” she said.
Fallows said she is impressed with both the confidence and creativity of the “Disney's The Little Mermaid Jr.” cast and crew.
“Because our Juniors always have such nice sets, the audience is expecting a wow factor, and that's what they're going to get,” she said.
With a light that adds the motion of rippling waves to the stage, the elaborate ribbon reef that lines it looks like the real thing.
“It's fantastic,” Fallows said. “The audience is going to feel like they are under the sea.”
The complete cast is Derek Jenkins, Pilot; Faith Gavron and Bob Miller, Sailors; Dylan Baker, Prince Eric; Brian Butko, Grimsby; Delaney Bulger, Seahorse; Jeff Veltre, King Triton; Michael Joseph Krut, Sebastian; Ana Brandt, Aquata; Amanda Davis, Andrina; Danielle Sigler, Arista; Jamie Wilson, Atina; McKenzie Algaier, Adella; Jordan Dentino, Allana; Jennifer Young, Ariel; Joey Young, Flounder; Travis Jenkins, Scuttle; Delaney Bulger and Sarah Houy, Gulls; Maria Veltre, Ursula; LaDaija Glover and Bryana Zanotelli, Tentacles; Natalie Butko, Flotsam; Brianna Williams, Jetsam; Sarah Houy, Carlotta; Bob Miller, Chef Louis; Delaney Bulger, Riley Bulger, Faith Gavron, Candy Keith, Sarah Houy and Bailey Krimm, Kitchen Maids; Makayla Elash, Shane Jenkins, Josh Sigler and Paxton Sigler, Sea Snails; Riley Bulger, Olivia Dempsey, Faith Gavron, Derek Jenkins, Candy Keith, Bailey Krimm and Hannah Sigler, Fish and Sea Creatures; McKenna Demek, Candy Keith and Rose Miller, Princesses.
Production staff members are Dorothy Fallows, director; Linda Baker, producer; Lisa Harrier, music director; Timothy Dougherty, technical assistant; Samantha Mitchell, choreographer; Dorothy Fallows, Bob Fallows, George Hart, Gary Krut and Elizabeth Civello, set design and construction; Darlene Gavron, costume design; Rose-Lorene Miller, stage manager; McKenna Demek, assistant stage manager; Nikolas Butko, stage crew; George Schlict, lighting design; Matt Sigler, lighting and sound tech; Ellen Small and Brian Butko, advertising and posters; and Linda Baker, programs and properties.
Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or firstname.lastname@example.org.