Two high school musicals
‘Little Mermaid,’ ‘Shrek’ run next week
By Scott Bellile
Adaptations of popular animated films will take center stage for New London’s and Hortonville’s fall musicals next week.
Both shows will run for multiple days, so the communities have the chance to check out both productions if they wish.
New London middle and high school students will take audiences under the sea with Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” directed by NLHS choir teacher Lori Flury.
Shows run at NLHS from Friday, Nov. 10, through Sunday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. Nov. 10-11, and 2 p.m. on Nov. 12.
Admission is $10. Tickets are available now at New London Intermediate/Middle School, NLHS, the school district office, New London Area Chamber of Commerce and Festival Foods.
Hortonville High School, meanwhile, plans a comical journey through fairytales with DreamWorks’ “Shrek,” directed by HHS choir teacher Justin Foth.
“Shrek the Musical” runs Thursday, Nov. 9, through Sunday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. Nov. 9-10, 2:30 and 7 p.m. Nov. 11, and 2:30 p.m. Nov. 12.
Tickets cost $8 for students and seniors and $10 for adults at the night shows. Everyone gets in for $8 at the weekend matinees. People can order now online at www.hasd.org.
‘The Little Mermaid’
Flury said New London’s fall musical has seen strong numbers since it began accepting middle-schoolers last year. About 100 kids total are involved in acting, pit orchestra and stage crew.
Some of the actors playing leading roles include Liz Radke (Ariel), Emelia Roberts (Sebastian), Katarina Wickmann (Flounder), Trenton Kloehn (King Triton), Micah Backus (Prince Eric), Maraya Bult (Ursula) and Weston Spencer (Scuttle).
Wickmann said this year’s show has less comedy than last year’s production of “Shrek the Musical,” but it remains light-hearted. Fans of “The Little Mermaid” movie will notice this show packs more songs.
“We love the music,” Wickmann said. “We always love the music but this year it’s really fun and it’s really character-based.”
All the main characters get their own specific songs and the various sea creatures and minor characters are all involved in at least two numbers.
Backus secured a leading role as Prince Eric despite this being his first musical. He said he acted in plays before but never sang much. His co-stars said his voice is amazing despite his inexperience.
Actors said the audience may be blown away by the costumes, which are rented from and designed by Appleton North High School.
Asked how else the musical is different from the movie than the number of songs, “King Triton” Kloehn chimed in with further insight: “We’re not underwater.”
Wickmann said “The Little Mermaid” is a classic movie so many will want to catch the musical, which is “just like the movie but a little cooler.”
Radke added: “It’s a good recreation of the Disney version with more added to it, I’d say. So bring kids.”
Foth chose the popular “Shrek” in order to draw more kids to try out this year. He found roles in the cast, stage crew or pit orchestra for all 120 or so students who showed up.
This year Foth and his assistant director, Kristin Jobe, let the students run the show. The youth made many of the decisions regarding costumes, makeup and props, and took on more responsibilities in the greenroom and sound booth.
“It’s been our job to teach them how to do these things and tell them ‘go,’ and it’s incredible what they do,” Foth said.
Said stage director Leanna Frisbie: “It’s a good challenge. We like it.”
The main characters are played by James Kellerman (Shrek), Emily Bishop (Fiona), Miranda Sanofsky (Donkey) and Trent Larson (Lord Farquaad).
Larson claimed – perhaps jokingly, for it was hard to tell – that Kellerman was made for the role of Shrek because he used to quote the ogre when both boys were in daycare.
“He would always say ‘Get out of me swamp,’” Larson said, imitating Shrek’s Scottish accent. “That’s why he’s so good at that line. And honestly he looks like Shrek, too.”
This goofy attitude Larson expressed is actually key to the musical because the actors have to channel their inner comedians to make the script work. Over the summer Jobe provided them lessons on comedic timing.
Sanofsky said it can be tricky because even after rehearsing the script “a bajillion times,” if a line doesn’t happen at precisely the right time and the audience doesn’t understand it, then the joke does not land.
The story is heavy on laughs as Shrek the irritable green ogre embarks on a quest with his loudmouthed sidekick Donkey to rescue Princess Fiona, take down the evil Lord Farquaad and take back Shrek’s swamp.
Still, the show contains emotion, Sanofsky said. Cast members said the audience will find meaning within the lyrics sung by the characters as they endure hardship.
“With the music it’s original and it’s genuine as opposed to like other musicals where it’s so sing-songy,” Kellerman said. “This is straight from the heart of all these fairy tale creatures and Shrek, Fiona, Donkey.”