PACT inviting public to be a part of their world

October 13, 2013

Joseph Pratt

PDT Contributor

The Portsmouth Area Children’s Theatre (PACT) is inviting everyone to be a part of their world this fall, with their production of “The Little Mermaid, Junior.”

“The Little Mermaid, Junior” is comprised of 53 local students who will be costumed as fish, merpeople, a prince and many more beloved classic Disney characters. There is also a preshow for kids ages 3-5 and consists of three songs that are themed around the beach and ocean. The preshow serves as an introduction for kids who aren’t ready for a full show.

The musical is based off the 1989 Disney movie and the classic Danish fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson of the same title. The tale follows a young mermaid princess, Ariel, as she follows her dreams and pursues what no mermaid has done before; she decides to go onto land. She makes a deal with an evil sea witch and soon learns that the deal might mean trouble not just herself, but for everyone.

Music and lyrics by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Glen Slater features classic songs such as “Fathoms Below,” “Under the Sea,” “Part of Your World” and “Kiss the Girl.”

“Over the years of presenting live theatre to kids, I’ve learned it affects people in a lot of ways. When kids see something they love come to life on stage, it is completely different from seeing it on a screen or in a movie theatre, because it is real people and real people become the characters. The music and story surrounds them in a way it hadn’t before,” PAAC executive director Becky Lovins said. “Anyone who enjoys Disney should be entranced during the show.”

Lovins said that it was a pretty easy decision in choosing “The Little Mermaid, Junior.” Besides the show being pretty new to community theatre, it has a wide generational gap and interest group. She also believes that the show has some of the best music Disney has put out.

“Follow your dreams and fight against evil,” Lovins joked when asked about the message in the story. “Honestly though, Ariel wants a different life for herself and it is something she never gives up on.”

Susan Foster, director, described rehearsal schedule as “craziness.” Since the fall show is normally a 70-minute MTI Kids version, the six week rehearsal period is a little calmer. “The Little Mermaid, Junior” is the full length junior show and runs an hour and a half, however.

“You wouldn’t think the small difference in time would make such a big deal, but it is actually major difference, especially now that we have a lot of new kids.” Foster said.

Foster said that since the fall show is comprised of their junior company, a large amount of time is spent teaching students about theatre basics and the dynamics of the stage. When she starts rehearsing the show, they spend time on music only and then go into blocking and choreographing the show, which takes up most of the six weeks

“The students have done a great job from start to finish. I’ve been truly amazed at the amount of talent,” Foster said. “I’m proud that I’ve been able to watch them grow the whole way.”

Juliana Parlin, fourth grade Wheelersburg student, is taking the limelight this fall as Ariel, the popular mermaid princess. Parlin got involved in theatre two years ago and has since had roles such as Annie in Wheelersburg’s production of “Annie” and Alice in JAX Theatre’s production of “Alice’s Wonderland.”

“Mermaid is fun and everyone gets a chance to sing a song of their own. It seems fair. Even I only have one song that I sing on my own,” Parlin said. “Everyone has their own little part and it makes it a really cute show for little kids to be in and it is a great story. I love the movie.”

Parlin said that she is most excited about seeing what her costume is going to look like.

Micah Simmons, eighth grade Portsmouth student, is playing the love interest of Ariel, Prince Eric. Simmons is no stranger to the stage, having played many leading roles. He was last seen in JAX Theatre’s production of “Alice’s Wonderland” as a Tweedle.

“Eric is obviously a prince, but he doesn’t want to be king. He is an easy going and fun loving guy; he just wants to be at ease and sail all day, but his butler is persuading him to be king. He is kind of in an undecided mood.”

Anna Lovins, fifth grade West student, has been involved in theatre since she was four.

“My name is Flounder and I am basically Ariel’s sidekick. Whenever she gets in trouble I sometimes help her, but I sometimes just get her in more trouble.”

Lovins said that she likes theatre because it is a fun way to entertain the public and she believes that “The Little Mermaid” will do just that.

“I think they picked a good show to do this year,”Lovins said. “I think in some parts people will be really still and on the edge of their seats and during others will be laughing their butts off.”

“The Little Mermaid, Junior” will run at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 18 and 19 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 20 at 2:30 p.m.. General admission is $10 and student tickets are $8. Tickets will be available at the McKinley Box Office 740-351-3600 and all Ticketmaster locations.

“We are thrilled that this show is starting off our fourth season,” Lovins said. “I think the time has flown by and to think that we are already planning our fifth year is amazing that we’ve come so far and we have so many dedicated families and kids that have learned so much.”