SMC debuts student production of ‘The Little Mermaid’ Friday

The cast of SMC’s upcoming production of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” had a full dress rehearsal Monday night. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

The cast of SMC’s upcoming production of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” had a full dress rehearsal Monday night. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

Audiences inside Southwestern Michigan College’s Dale A. Lyons Building theater will be transported to a magical world under the sea the next two weekends, as the college hosts its newest student musical production — Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.”

For the first time, the college will put on the show for two consecutive weekends, beginning on March 4-6 and ending March 13. Show times are 7:30 p.m. for Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays.

The musical, based off the 1989 Disney animated film, will feature the characters, story and aquatic setting that remain popular with young children even today.

Unlike many student productions, though, the script the 39-member cast is working with isn’t the scaled-down junior version, but one used for Broadway productions, the rights to which just recently became available, said Director Paul Mow.

“It’s not a kids’ show,” Mow said. “It’s a show for kids, but it has a massive amount of production value put into.”

The students and staff have been working since December to bring the children’s film to life on stage, with crews employing a number of different tricks to help create the illusion that they are witnessing a story beneath the waves, such as pair of blue-colored LED lights installed above the stage. On top of the elaborate costumes and wigs they will be wearing, many of the cast members will be rolling around the stage on Heely shoes meant to simulate swimming, Mow said.

For the cast, comprised of SMC and area high school students, the pressure of bringing to life a beloved Disney classic is quite the tall order.

“It’s our job to make that magic happen on stage,” said Maddie Schrock, a sophomore at St. Joseph High School who portrays Ariel. “It’s an intimidating task but we can definitely pull it off.”

Similar to last year’s SMC production of “Into the Woods,” many of the lead roles of the play will be dual cast, with Schrock playing Ariel one night while Mariah Rifenberg, also from St. Joseph, playing the role the next one.

Also dual cast is the part of Eric, Ariel’s love interest, portrayed by Leo Carmody and Nick Feragut, both of Stevensville.

Carmody, whose favorite film growing up was “The Little Mermaid,” said he is excited to hear the positive buzz the upcoming production has generated, based off the strong presale ticket sales.

“I’m excited for the kids who will experience theater for the first time,” Carmody said.

Tickets can be purchased from the box office at 800-456-8675, ext. 1280, or online at swmich.edu/boxoffice. Tickets cost $7 general admission, $5 senior citizens and is free to SMC students with ID and those under 18.

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