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'Disney's The Little Mermaid' a delightful trip under the sea

Santa Catalina School Theatre Arts made a splash with the fall musical, Disney’s The Little Mermaid. The beloved animated classic was brought to life with vibrant costumes, great technical skill, and memorable performances.

The production involved about 100 people, including 13 cast members from the Lower and Middle School, making it one of the largest shows in Catalina’s history.

One defining aspect of the musical was the near-constant use of flying effects as characters were hoisted aloft to swim through the ocean or soar through the air. The impressive feat, along with an array of background characters moving about the stage in all manner of colorful sea creature costumes, helped immerse audiences in the underwater world.

“It is truly a massive show, requiring tremendous efforts from the cast and the crew,” says stage manager Wendy Liu ’23. “The whole process was intensive, especially when we tried to put everything together to go with the flow of the show since so many things were happening at the same time. Ariel might need to do a quick change when she is getting on the flying lines backstage while there are sound effects, light cues, set shifts, and prop catching happening onstage. But I am genuinely so happy to accomplish it with this whole theater community of 100-plus people. We are so proud of the magic we brought to you.”

The familiar tale finds mermaid Ariel (Charlotte Juge ’23), the youngest daughter of King Triton (Rob Devlin), dreaming of a life beyond the sea. After falling in love with Prince Eric (Sylvia Chen ’23) during a visit to the surface, she makes a deal with the sea witch Ursula (CC Shaw ’23) to turn her into a human. But the bargain is not what it seems, and Ariel needs the help of her colorful friends—Flounder the fish (Eva Ushakoff ’24, who got around on a waveboard), Scuttle the seagull (Ashley Yang ’23), and Sebastian the crab (Rehema Kiama ’24)—to restore order under the sea.

There were plenty of strong solo performances—Ursula was a crowd favorite, as any good villain should be—but the musical was at its most charming during large cast numbers such as “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl.” You could attend every show and pick up on something different each time. Supporting characters including Ariel’s sisters, Scuttle’s seagull pals (who continued to entertain the audience during intermission), and Ursula’s eely minions were also a delight.

For all of the student talent, the production deserves another special nod to the professionals behind the scenes, including director Lara Wheeler Devlin ’02, technical director Ana Maximoff, vocal director Mark Purcell, choreographer Nicole Cofresi, and costume coordinator Joanna Winningham. Managing a production of such size and complexity is no easy task, and they helped the students perform at their best.

Any fan of the Disney movie will have no trouble falling in love with Santa Catalina’s production. Congratulations to the cast and crew for capturing the magic!

See photos from The Little Mermaid on SmugMug.

The Little Mermaid cast in costume on stage. Two seagulls hang from the rafters.
The Little Mermaid crew dressed in black on the stage.

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