by Hali Cooms
On Friday evening, March 22nd and Saturday the 23rd, Cherokee High School’s Theater group, the “Cherokee Players,” welcomed audiences to a new ocean of fun, as they performed “The Little Mermaid” for three shows in the school’s auditorium.
Walking into the building, people were greeted by three colorful sea creatures, such as jellyfish literally glowing and bobbing with grins, before entering into a whole ocean of blue, as the whole auditorium was made to look like a coral reef! Once inside, blue lights rippled across the walls creating feelings of sunrays filtering beneath the ocean waves, a large family of jellyfish floated just above heads in the entrance way, and collections of handcrafted coral adorned the entire auditorium. The breathtaking sets and décor had audiences captivated, and the show had not even begun. The Little Mermaid has gotten us heads over tails!
With a cast of 55 students, the show retold the story of everyone’s favorite mermaid, Ariel, as she finds out what the power of love can do. With the colorful costumes and amazing sets, Dr. Burn and her students brought the show to life, but not all of this was done by Disney magic, a lot of hard work and determination went into it.
The cast started working on the show just after Thanksgiving break ended, working on lines and songs. Then they went onto costumes. They made all their own costumes! The variety of sea life and the representation of each creature was astounding. The attention to detail, creativity, and time investment did not go unnoticed.
“It was a complete collaborated effort, but everyone saw the vision” said director Dr. Jodi Burn when asked about the colorful displays the cast was wearing.
The costumes were not only beautiful, but the cast re-created the appearance of “swimming” across stage utilizing heelies! According to conversations with cast members, the heelies were slightly hard to control, but with practice the actors got the hang of them. Imagine an ocean full of sea creatures on heelies dancing and singing to elaborately choreographed numbers, and you have an idea of the level of practice that went into this production.
All the sets were made by company called Just Props! who went by Dr. Burn’s design, and with the sets, added to the costumes, and tons of rehearsals, The Little Mermaid was ready to dive into the deep end by late March.
The artwork and sets were just the beginning. The acting and singing rivaled any college performance. The exceptional part of this program is that the musical allowed for multiple talents to showcase their voice, not just the leads. All were amazing. There were many creative differences than the Disney counterpart, both in plot and characterization, and this allowed for more characters to take on performance numbers, such as more key parts for Ariel’s father (Joseph Smith) and sisters (Ceci Delanuez, Anna Selph, Sarah Harmon, Kaylee Fernandez, Gabby Stone, and Kaitlyn Smith). Even the hysterical Chef Louis (McKenzie Chambers) and Grimsby (Drew Stills) as well as Flotsom and Jetsem (Emily Zinkil and Steven Stanton) had fantastic singing parts.
The main characters, Ariel (Julia Perez), Flounder (Mary Stewart Brannam), Sebastian (Camille Janawitz), Scuttle (Noah Pritchard), Prince Eric (Nick DeMartini), and Ursula (Joshua Walters) somehow managed to belt out beautiful bravado throughout the entire length of the musical with incredible character.
The final numbers were breathtaking. At a point, the entire sea was on stage, and the sight was inspiring bringing the audience to their feet.
The show was memorable not only for the audience but for the cast as well, here’s what some of them had to say when asked about their experience with The Little Mermaid:
“Incredible, this group was so passionate, and we all love this show.” Said one ensemble member.
“I’m a freshman and it’s so exciting to be accepted into a group like a family.” Said another ensemble member.
Matheny “Mattie” Rask, who played a seahorse named Windward said, “The Little Mermaid is like a family, very accepting.”
Sophomore, Mary Stewart “Stewie” Brannam, who played Flounder said the experience was, “Really good.”
Junior, Nick DeMartini, who played Eric said the experience was “Fun and tough.”
And Ariel, senior, Julia Perez, said The Little Mermaid was an “amazing experience.”
“My cast and crew are amazing. They worked incredibly hard to hard to put this show together.” Dr. Burn praised her students.
For a school renowned for our performances, we cannot wait to see what next year brings.