The Little Mermaid – HHS

The Haywood High School Theater Department is gearing up for a two-night performance of The Little Mermaid.  Exciting musical numbers performed by the Haywood High School Choir will be interwoven with the play which centers around the character of Ariel, a mermaid who has an insatiable curiosity of the world that exists above the ocean in which she lives.

Theater teacher, Jocelyn Kissell, believes The Little Mermaid is the perfect play to showcase the talents of her students.

The Little Mermaid is one of my favorite Disney movies ever and one of my favorite shows,” she said.  “It also has a very female heavy cast and the majority of our students in theater are female, so it lines up with that.  The students are having a lot of fun with this particular play so far.”

Along with whimsical musical numbers, the costumes are vibrant and colorful and make for a visual aesthetic that draws in the audience.

“We’ve spent a lot of money on costumes this year, but we had the budget for it,” Jocelyn explained.  “We’ve also been getting creative with the costume closet I have at the high school.  Our mermaids will have full-body leotards and mermaid leggings with fabric sewn around the edges to give it a flare-out so it looks like a mermaid fin.”

With the production of any live performance, however, challenges will arise and that’s when actors and directors have to think outside of the box to deliver an outstanding performance.

“We have tons of freshmen this year, which is awesome, and we’re involving the high school choir class who will be singing an ensemble off stage and treating it as a concert for them,” Jocelyn said.  “It’s been interesting trying to line up the logistics with the choir but we’re finding our groove.”

Playing the lead role of Ariel is senior and theater veteran Ava Adams.  Ava has previous stage experience in productions of Snow White and The Addams Family.  Even with that experience, she still gets a little nervous when the curtain goes up.

“This is my sixth play in total.  I still get nervous, though,” she said.  “I’ve been the main character a few other times in a couple of other plays, but I think this is my favorite one so far.  This character gets to have a lot of fun, and it’s also fun to be a princess in a play.”

While playing Ariel has definitely been a fun experience overall, one scene in particular is Ava’s favorite.

“There’s a scene where Triton (Ariel’s dad) and I have to yell in each other’s faces and it’s really intense and loud, but there’s something about that that’s really cool to do,” she said.

Playing Ariel’s love interest, Prince Eric, is senior LeJerwin Young who is used to that role in a play.

“I’m used to playing the love interest in plays. I was Wednesday’s boyfriend in The Addams Family, so I’ve got this down,” he said as he laughed. 

Even though he says he’s used to playing the love interest, there are still some nerves to be overcome when it comes to a certain scene in The Little Mermaid.

“The scene when the song “Kiss the Girl” is playing is a little awkward to play,” he admitted.  

Overall, though, playing Prince Eric has been an enjoyable experience for LeJerwin.

“I really like the music and singing in this production.  I have a couple of solos in this, so I’m excited about that,” he said.  “I get emotionally invested in the scenes, and that really helps.”

For anyone who has seen The Little Mermaid, the character of Sebastian ties so much of the plot together.  Sebastian provides a lot of comedy (mostly unintentional) and is responsible for singing the most recognizable song in the play: Under the Sea.

Playing the role of Sebastian is senior Alexis Mann.

“I think this is my biggest role, so far.  I love playing this character because the more dramatic I get to be, the more I love it because my whole personality is dramatic,” she said in a way that proved that statement to be true.

Like LeJerwin and Ava, Alexis is also a veteran of the theater department having performed in The Wiz, The Addams Family, and Sister Act.  Playing Sebastian, however, is her favorite role so far.

“My favorite scene is one with Flounder when he tells me Ariel has fallen in love with a human…I get to have a big reaction to that.  I get to fall, too, and I like that,” she said.

As Jocelyn and her crew have prepared for this production, they have had to pivot a few times and adjust their production philosophy compared to years past.  This year, the play is being held at Haywood Elementary School instead of College Hill Center, but the process has been mostly smooth because of the talented students she has helping produce the technical side of the performance.

“We’ve rented stage lighting which is run by a student, and we have students working the sound, too.  This is totally a student-run production,” Jocelyn said.  

Both the students and Jocelyn agree on what their favorite scene has been during rehearsals.

“The Under the Sea scene has been the kids’ (and mine) favorite scene to do.  We haven’t completely choreographed it yet, so they’re just free-styling and really enjoying the improvisation of everything right now, and it’s working really well,” she said.

Make plans this March 4th and 5th to be at Haywood Elementary School to see HHS students perform The Little Mermaid.  The shows start at 7:00 PM both nights.  Don’t miss this opportunity to be entertained as well as support the students in Haywood County.