Popular Disney story, fairy tale comes to life in Stage Left’s theater


Myra Brown and Dylan Berry , staff writers

The students in Stage Left have wanted to perform “The Little Mermaid” for years, and Disney finally released the rights to the play.

“It just got released last fall and when it did I signed up to do it [because] I thought it was appropriate for our school and where we live,” director Connie Rose said.

Students, those who are in theater and those who are not, were thrilled to hear that “The Little Mermaid” would be the spring play. Many know the music and story because of the popular animated movie. The play follows a beautiful mermaid, Ariel, as she trades her voice for legs to capture the heart of Prince Eric.

“Seeing The Little Mermaid took me back to my childhood! The Little Mermaid is my favorite Disney movie!” Administrative Assistant Jessica Everett said.

The cast members have been rehearsing almost every week night since January to prepare for the play. They also have attended dance rehearsals two times a week.

“It was really fun. It was great being able to be with my friends every night, and I really enjoyed performing, especially as Scuttle. It was definitely one of the most fun plays I’ve done,” said junior Katelyn Medlin, who played Scuttle.

Stage Left recruited help from the music department for the play.  Both music teachers, April Rife and Becki Rea, as well as students and other community members comprised the pit.

“Being a pit musician is a unique experience,” Rea said. “You learn to aim for consistent performances, while at the same time going with the flow of a live theater. It is so cool that we offer live music along with live theater, and not a canned music track.  This is a unique opportunity for Manteo musicians, and they always rise to the occasion and do a great job!”

A new sound system ensured the pit and voices were heard.

“The sound quality for Stage Left productions has been lacking due to old, worn out equipment,” Hunt Thomas said. “Thanks to Mr. Luciano we were able to make huge improvements. The school bought new wireless mics and new ear-microphones, which cut out the breakup when the performers are talking.”

The play presented many challenges along the way, but Rose and her cast prevailed. “Musically, this is one of the hardest shows we have ever done.  When the pit plays, the actors have to know what and when to sing,” Rose said. “The costumes have been insane, but the ones we have received have been amazing. This show gives lots of ways to make the play fun for the actors and for the audience to stay interested.”

The costume and set and were quite different from previous performances too. From mermaids to sea life to seagulls, each costume had different needs. And the set required both land and sea.

“These costumes were more challenging than other shows because they had to portray what it would look like to actually be under the water,” senior Victoria Amerman said. “This meant that the sea creatures and mermaids had to have tails. The mermaids were also on heelys, which was a first for a Stage Left show, and it was complicated to learn how to skate with a tail attached to you.”

For seniors, this marked their last Stage Left performance. Many of them had prominent roles. Senior Amber Copeland played Ariel and senior Rebecca Boyce played Ursula while senior Autumn Haskett ended up playing both Chef Louise and Flounder.

“It’s funny. A few hours before I got the news [that I would be playing two parts], I was sitting in the auditorium with Ms Gillie talking to her about how I wanted to do one more show so I could have one more part,” Haskett said. “She said I was crazy and I could never convince her, Mr. Nichols or Ms. Connie into doing another show. But I actually didn’t have to convince anyone. That night at rehearsal, three days before opening night, Ms. Connie pulled me aside and told me she needed me to do something for her. Even though I only had three days to learn Flounder’s lines and songs, I had my entire theatre family behind me supporting me all the way. It was a great experience and I would do it all over again if I could!

Several underclassmen took on some of the main roles in the play. Sophomore Warren Brown played King Triton and junior Devin Hollins played Prince Eric while freshman Kyle Logan played Sebastian.

“I’m really excited to be one of the main characters but also really nervous because if I mess up my lines I could mess up other actors on stage,” Brown said.

“The Little Mermaid” ran two weekends in March, and audience members enjoyed every moment of it.

“It was clear that there was a lot of work put into this and that everyone had a lot of fun,” freshman  Pallas Kenyon said. “It was beautifully entertaining.”