Arts and Entertainment

Youth production takes viewers ‘under the sea’ with The Little Mermaid

June 8, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

The younger thespians eager to bring The Little Mermaid to the Opera House on the weekend from June 23 to 25 are a cast of 29 actors from ages five to 15 years old.

Director Jamie Connelly told the Citizen, “The older kids mentor the younger ones. They are all getting on really well.”

The choice of The Little Mermaid for Orangeville Music Theatre’s (OMT) junior musical show, as decided by their Board of Directors, was two-fold, as Ms. Connelly outlined: that it has been many years since the company produced the show and with the new movie recently in cinemas, it was thought that people would like to see this particular musical.

The Little Mermaid comes from the Danish children’s author Christian Andersen, first published in 1837, about the youngest mermaid daughter of the Sea King Triton. She finds herself falling in love with a human, Prince Eric, after saving his life when he falls from his ship into the sea during a storm. She brings him to shore and waits for help to come but must then face the idea he has no idea it was she who saved him.

It is the story of Ariel’s love of adventure, her desire to be part of that world above the ocean and falling in love with Prince Eric.

This story, based on the rewrite of the Disney movie, takes quite a different spin from the original.

There is plenty of room for villains in such a tale of a young girl and her seemingly unreasonable passion to be someone, and somewhere she was never meant to be. Ursula, the wicked Sea Queen, tempts Ariel with seductive reasoning that tests her to the limits about how to make a decision with no guarantee of success, putting her in an almost impossible dilemma to win the heart of the Prince.

Which, at the time, does not work. For anyone who has not seen the show or Disney’s movie, come and discover what happens.

Talking about the main issue of the plot and Ariel’s wonderful voice, Jamie Connelly extolled the voices of her singers, saying, “Speaking of which, the harmony and voices of these young actors are wonderful.” 

Praising them further, she said, “With any of our cast there are no problems. They have become a real family and they love to hang out. Everyone is accepted, no matter their age.”

Ms. Connelly refers to herself as a parent of a child in the theatre and a member of the OMT’s Board of Directors for five years.

Yet, this show suffered a blow in its making. To begin the rehearsals, there were two co-directors, Cathy Broom and Jamie Connelly. Ms. Broom was a longtime member of OMT and one who had directed a number of junior productions.

“For this show, I was co-directing with Cathy Broom,” said Ms. Connelly, adding sadly, “She passed away during the rehearsal. This show is dedicated to Cathy Broom.”

As this is Ms. Connelly’s first time directing, she had to learn from Cathy Broom.

“She was ill but we did not expect her to pass. I was co-director to help out and take some of the burden from her.”

The highlight of this experience has been spending time with the kids again, bringing their good form back once more.

Philosophically, she noted, “They really need to be together. They were so happy to see each other, to see the artistic team hugging each other. The costumes are fantastic; our designer is incredible.”

Her main takeaway is how everybody is accepted. How, while the kids have not been working like this, hard work has paid off.

“And they haven’t been used to that,” she remarked.

The challenge has been with the wet and dry scenery and “having 30 kids on the stage.” More than that, the biggest challenge was to explain the story and then to make it come to life. There are a lot of new kids who have never been on stage before. Watching them grow as they learn the play, they are confident where they were not, now singing and dancing.

“Theatre,” she claimed, “is a building block for going to their future, to build their confidence. It’s also about the team: everything depends on everyone.”

For credit where it is due, the music director for the play is Terri-Ann Gawthrope, and the choreographer is Paige Whitehead. The stage manager is Jeff Bursey.

The wonderful costumes come from Laura Vradenburg.

When asked why people should come, Ms. Connelly said it’s a great family outing and “Exposing your kids to musical theatre is the best thing you can do.”

For tickets and details for Little Shop of Horrors and The Little Mermaid, go to

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