Pine City audiences will head beneath the waves this weekend as the Pine City High School theater program presents “The Little Mermaid.”

“This is going to be a pretty fun show,” said “Mermaid” director Becky Schueller.  “I’m loving the cast and the singing and the dancing – all of that is coming together. “Everybody is just finding their own ways to be creative and explore new things.

“The Little Mermaid,” released by Disney in 1989 and later adapted for Broadway, focuses on Ariel (Ally Chromey) a mermaid daughter of Triton (Christian Fromm), the King of the Sea. Much to her father’s chagrin, Ariel falls in love with a human prince named Eric (Jacob Merrick). In her quest to win his affection, she falls victim to her wicked aunt Ursula (Emily Schueller) and her two eccentric eels Flotsam (Belle Helseth) and Jetsam (Katie Simon).

There are 39 students in the cast – 18 of them seniors – and another 20 in the crew. Schueller said she loves the moment where the young actors try out their costumes and makeup for the first time, because they really start to see themselves as those characters.

“They get super-excited,” she said. “It’s like a switch in those kids. It’s a totally different environment.”

Schueller said that support from the Minnesota theater community freed them up to put an individual stamp on the show.  

“I think our biggest challenge is creating the atmosphere of being under the sea,” she said. “We were able to acquire some of our major set pieces from another community theater, so were able to personalize a lot more stuff.”

Music is a big part of the show, and audiences can expect to hear the hit songs from the original Disney show and more.

“You’re going to hear ‘Under the Sea.’ You’re going to hear ‘Part of This World,’” Schueller said. “There are songs from the Broadway musical that don’t transfer over into the movie. Chef Louie and the crazy mayhem with Sebastian are going to be part of the show.”

Besides acting and helping with lights and props, everyone in the production lends a hand helping out to build and decorate sets.

“Our first set day was kind of fun, because in order to manage that many people I took my seniors and divided them up into teams,” she said. “There was Team Ship whose job was to build the ship that we need in the show. We had Team Coral Reef ... Team Bubbles ... So a part of the day was simply getting these seniors to be leaders and help complete projects by teaching the younger kids and giving the younger kids that freedom to be creative. So I’m just really blown away by some of the creative artistry coming out of these kids. They ... freehanded it, chose their own colors. There are some really talented artists coming out of this.

“Some of our seniors wanted input on their costume designs,” Schueller continued. “It’s giving these kids some ownership in the production, so it’s not just me directing and telling them how it is, and the adults making all the decisions. This is about collaborating with our students.”

Public performances of “The Little Mermaid” are at 7 p.m. on Nov. 8 and 9 with a matinee performance at 2 p.m. on Nov. 10. The special morning matinee event will continue this year on Thursday, Nov. 7. For more information visit the Pine City High School Theater website and Facebook page. 

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