It may be cold and wintry outside, but come into the warmth of another world; under the sea, as the Northern Virginia Players opens Disney’s “The Little Mermaid Jr.” for six performances.
The musical production is brought to audiences by the Northern Virginia Players with a cast of 58 home-schooled students who are “very talented, very focused actors ages 8-18,” noted co-directors Anne Eul and Kate Wittig. The Players are dedicated to providing home schooled students theatrical opportunities.
There are thousands of home-schooled students in Fairfax County and in the Northern Virginia area. Participation in the production provides home-schooled students the opportunity to meet others from around the area and make new friendships as well as learn valuable theatrical skills such as team-work and collaboration to reach a common goal.
“The Little Mermaid Jr.” is adapted from the Disney 2008 Broadway production featuring a score that includes the Oscar-winning “Under the Sea” along with songs such as “Part of Your World,” and “She’s in Love.” Lyrics are by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater. Music is by Alan Menken and book by Doug Wright.
The story is about life below the oceans where a charming young mermaid, Ariel, imagines exploring life beyond her home. After saving a human Prince from a shipwreck, she begins to fall in love with him. With her new feelings come desires to take some risks. With a little help from her undersea friends comes not only adventures but so much more for Ariel as she finds her way.
“The Little Mermaid Jr.” is a show that is “fun, has great music, supports a large cast, and is the favorite of many,” noted Eul and Wittig.
Asked about directing a large youthful cast the veteran co-directors spoke of the honor to “being involved in the growth of their self esteem.”
Victoria Klimkowski, one of the young actors, indicated that “Little Mermaid Jr.” is a musical with “amazing music, a great story, hilarious dialogue, and important lessons to glean.” As an example, she cited Ariel showing herself as “not merely a bored teenager, she has dreams, ambition, aspirations and hope for the future.”
When asked about a favorite line from the show, Klimkowski said it “ would definitely be Ariel’s” as she ponders in wonder at the human world: “What is a fire and why does it...what’s the word...burn?”
For Klimkowski, these words show that Ariel is “mesmerized by the wondrous, different world of the surface.” That Ariel wants to understand things that life is bringing.
Mike Guerinot, who plays Ariel’s father, King Triton, said his favorite line is “As long as you live under my reef, you’ll obey my rules!” The line is King Triton speaking to Ariel as she raises some of her own ideas for herself and her life.
David Markovich, another young actor, noted that through it all, King Triton “loves his daughter more than anything.” and is willing to give up powers to protect Ariel.
Parents are a key to the on-going success of Northern Virginia Players productions. They volunteer to make the production happen in many ways from costumes, set, publicity and even concessions.
“It is an opportunity to truly be involved in what the kids are doing.” And being in “Little Mermaid Jr” gives her daughter the “chance to express herself. “ All the children, “gain an appreciation for watching something small grow into something they will remember always...and the true value of working with others.” said Terry Post, one of the parents.
For another parent, Jacquline Grose, “I am glad to do my little part. When everyone does what they are gifted or willing to do, it becomes a family-like experience with all the families working together, which is really fun! All that work enables the production to come to fruition.”
In the show, the children “learn teamwork, cooperation and how to make a production come together. They learn to improve their public speaking skills. They learn that a production requires many skills, not just theirs,” noted Grose. “There are so many parts and skills that contribute to a production.”
In keeping with the tradition of service for those in need, the Northern Virginia Players will be donating part of ticket proceeds from the first weekend of shows to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.