Cast selected for Connellsville Junior High's 'Mermaid Jr.'
The cast of Connellsville Junior High School's musical, “The Little Mermaid Jr.,” has been practicing, enthusiastically preparing for their performances on March 22, 23 and 24 in the junior high school.
The leads for the production are all eighth-graders, except for Taylor Mickey, who plays Sebastian. She is a seventh-grader.
All of the eighth-graders are returning to the junior high stage after appearing in last year's musical production.
They all auditioned knowing that being in a musical is hard work.
“I try to work on my part by listening to the CD at home or while I'm on my way to sports. I practice as much as I can,” said Jordan Kosisko, who plays Prince Eric.
“There is a lot of time management. It is a challenge, but it's well worth it. Just the experience of being in the musical is amazing — looking out over the audience and seeing their reactions when you're onstage is just wonderful. It's great,” said Abriana Colborn who plays Ariel.
“We're having so much fun, it is fun to work with Mr. (Ben) Haines. Everyone puts in so much effort,” said Lydia Glotfelty, who plays Flounder.
“I've made a lot of new friends. Our practices are going really well,” said Taylor Mickey, who plays Sebastian.
The acclaimed movie and Broadway play tell the story of Ariel, a teenage mermaid princess who is dissatisfied with life under the sea and curious about the human world. With her best fish friend Flounder, Ariel collects human artifacts and goes to the surface of the ocean to visit Scuttle the Seagull, who offers very inaccurate advice on human culture. Ariel ignores the warnings of her father, King Triton, and his adviser, Sebastian, that contact between merpeople and humans is forbidden.
One night, Ariel, Flounder and an unwilling Sebastian travel to the ocean surface to watch a celebration for the birthday of Prince Eric on a ship. Ariel falls in love with the prince. A huge storm comes up, the ship is destroyed and Ariel saves the unconscious Eric from drowning. Ariel sings to him, but to avoid being discovered, she leaves as soon as he regains consciousness. Fascinated by the memory of her voice, Prince Eric vows to find who saved and sung to him, and Ariel vows to find a way to join him and his world.
Noticing a change in Ariel's behavior, King Triton questions Sebastian about her behavior and learns of her love for Prince Eric. In frustration, King Triton confronts Ariel in her grotto, where she and Flounder store human artifacts, and destroys most of the objects. After King Triton leaves, a pair of eels, Flotsam and Jetsam, persuade Ariel to visit Ursula the sea witch in order to be with Prince Eric. Many twists and turns take place, and the audience is caught up in the drama before the musical concludes with a happy ending.
“Prince Eric is supposed to be the king back in the kingdom but he would rather explore the ocean and go sailing. I don't know if I'll get nervous on stage. My part last year wasn't as big, but I feel comfortable and confident, so I'm not nervous now. When I realized I wanted to do plays I came to see ‘Aladdin' and I said ‘Wow, this is amazing and I really, really want to do this when I get to the junior high school,' so it was a goal for me to do this,” said Kosisko.
“Ariel is a mermaid who dreams of being human and she would do anything to be on the surface. I love the way that the little kids especially look up to you when you're playing a part in the musical,” said Colborn.
“Ursula is a wicked witch who tries to get Ariel to fall under her spell and she tries to go through Ariel to get the Tritons position of King Triton Under The Sea,” said Madison Wiltrout, who plays Ursula. “When my brother Matt came home from musical practices each year, he talked about how much fun the cast had and how they laughed together and then I thought I wanted to be in the musicals too. I saw him working hard so I am working hard too, trying to live up to what he did in junior high.” Matt Wiltrout has the lead in the CAHS musical “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
“Sebastian is an anxious crab because he has to look after Ariel. He is funny and fun and he has to face some consequences along the way. I have come to watch the musicals every year because it is cool to see people act and sing on stage,” said Mickey.
“Flounder is a fish that is Ariel's best friend. He likes to have a lot of fun and play around. I've been coming to see the musicals ever since I was a little kid. I would see Mrs. (Gayle) Cuneo, the former director, and it looked like a ton of fun. She's been helping some of us with our voice and acting. We're making great memories. We want to invite everybody so we can fill the house every night. We hope people will like it so much they'll come back more than once,” said Glotfelty.
Marilee McFadden is the music director of “The Little Mermaid Jr.”
“I taught at Junior High West for over 20 years. The stage was in the gym and there was not an auditorium. I'm so happy to be at this new junior high where now I can finally be a part of the musical scene in Connellsville. This is a big group of students with lots of energy, dedication and focus. The ‘Little Mermaid' was a favorite movie of my kids when they were little so I'm enjoying the process of seeing it all come together. They are working very hard, so I hope the community will come to the production and be entertained, even if they don't have a connection to any of the students on stage. The audience will recognize quite a few of the popular songs, ‘Under The Sea,' ‘Part of Your World,' and ‘Kiss The Girl,' and there are even extra songs that are in the Broadway show that weren't in the movie,” McFadden said.
The costume mistress is Angie Hamman.
“This is a challenge because we're making everything from scratch. It's great to see it all come together though. I have a really great team of moms and grandmothers who volunteer and even some who have returned to help from past years even though they don't have a child in the school. We're all having a great time. The show is going to be absolutely fantastic, with the greatest colors and the prettiest Ariel you've ever seen. There are plenty of costume changes to add to the excitement,” said Hamman.
“The show is coming together quite nicely. I've got a great group of kids that are working hard and are very enthusiastic in putting together this production. It never ceases to amaze me how we have so many talented students here consistently every year. They're all doing an outstanding job. I can't wait for the community to see them perform,” said director Ben Haines.
“Our lead characters are really impressive in terms of what each of them is bringing to this show. But we also have over 100 other students just like them. The whole cast is comprised of some of the best students in our school. I'm really proud of them. I hope the community comes out to support these great kids,” Haines said.
Nancy Henry is a freelance writer.