South Portland High School production is first since pandemic

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The cast of South Portland High School’s production of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” Courtesy Photo/Jen Fletcher

SOUTH PORTLAND — South Portland High School’s musical theater program is finally back.

South Portland High School’s theater troupe will perform for the first time since the pandemic in its production of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” The show is based on the beloved story by Hans Christian Anderson and the classic Disney animated film. Audiences can expect to hear their favorite songs including ‘Under the Sea’, ‘Kiss the Girl’ and ‘Part of Your World’.

The story follows Ariel, the youngest daughter of King Triton. During one of her visits to the surface, forbidden by her father, she falls in love with a human prince. Determined to be with her new love, the human prince Eric in the upper world, Ariel negotiates with the wicked sea witch, Ursula, to trade her tail for legs. But the market is not what she wanted, when things start to go wrong, Ariel needs the help of her friends from the sea.

“We chose ‘The Little Mermaid’ based on the students we had at the auditions,” said Jen Fletcher, music teacher at South Portland Elementary School. “We wanted to see what the talent pool looked like, because our goal is to ensure that every child is as successful as possible in their role. Other than that, we wanted to make a show that would be exciting for students to put on and for the community to come and see. You can never go wrong with a Disney classic.

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The “Little Mermaid” is held at the South Portland Auditorium located at 637 Highland Ave., South Portland. The play opens on April 29 and will run until May 7. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. The show starts at 7 p.m. and doors open at 6 p.m. On Sunday, May 1, the show will be performed in American Sign Language. The interpreter will be located on the right side of the auditorium. Tickets are on sale online or in person at the box office on Thursdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. A limited number of tickets will be available for purchase at the door.

During the two years of the pandemic, the school was unable to organize its annual production, so the tension and stress that comes with this interruption in performance has taken its toll on students and staff. Kaelan Gildart, who plays Ariel, said she was delighted to be back on stage.

“I was really thrilled to be back on stage this year, I’ve been playing for about 6 and a half years, and to lose two to COVID.-19 was really tough,” Gildart said. “Acting is what I hope to pursue during and after college, so I feel very comfortable on stage and on stage in general. I also missed seeing my peers at rehearsals, so I’m very grateful to be home again and can’t wait to play at the end of April.

At the start of the play’s stages, students were required to follow mask-wearing and social distancing rules, but due to the lifting of mask restrictions, students may have had the choice of wearing a mask.

“Creating our first post-COVID show has been incredibly exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time,” Fletcher said. “It is so difficult to assess what the reception of a large gathering will be after two years of COVID precautions. Our cast, crew and pit accepted the challenge and did a wonderful job putting on this show. Many of our students have never done theater and are trying it for the first time. Everyone has worked so hard to bring ‘The Little Mermaid’ to life on our stage and we can’t wait to share it with the community. »

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The production team for the play is made up of four former South Portland High School Musical Theater students, Fletcher, Aaron Matthew, Nick Sutton and Sarah Gay. Fletcher teaches the fifth grade group in elementary schools in South Portland. Matthew works at Bath Savings, Sutton is a music student at the University of Southern Maine, and Gay teaches academically gifted classes in South Portland.

“The common thread is our love of theater and working with students,” Fletcher said. “Many of our volunteers are parents of children, but a handful are also parents of former students. The “Grumpy Old Men,” who came out of set-building retirement, are three dads (Ralph Baxter, Chuck Igo and Mike Fletcher) who have been building sets for the South Portland High School Musical Theater since 2008. We are so lucky to have on our team to create the underwater world you will see on stage.

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