Washington Evening Journal
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Washington, IA 52353
New London Middle and High School students put on
Mar. 20, 2023 10:52 am
NEW LONDON — A wide age-range of excited patrons gathered at the New London High School auditorium over the weekend to enjoy a nostalgia filled production of The Little Mermaid Jr. produced by the varsity choir and theater class.
From the moment the curtains revealed the cool-toned staged, the audience enjoyed a sweet musical filled with color, familiar songs, and well-developed characterizations.
The production even provided moments to further capture the audience’s attention such as the determined chef running through the audience hunting for the tasty crustacean Sebastian.
In another moment to break the fourth wall, Prince Eric, played by Matthew Rogers, tried to guess Ariel’s name, played by Chevy Mills.
“Is it … Chevelle?” he guessed and received a disgusted and empathic headshake from Mills.
“Some people think my actual name is Chevrolet, but it’s Chevelle,” Mills said and disclosed that she does not like to go by her full first name. “So, I got to give my real reaction to being called Chevelle.”
From lighting and sound to costumes and props to marketing, New London’s Performing Arts use productions like The Little Mermaid Jr. not to simply tell students how to put on a show, but to teach them how to make a show of their very own.
Due to the size of cast needed to put on The Little Mermaid Jr., the cast consisted of more than just Varsity Choir students.
“This year we needed a few more people because there are a lot of things going on with these characters,” Director Kati DeLlanos said. “So, this year we dipped into the middle school.”
“All of these middle schoolers have all done such a great job at learning how to do this and learning how theater works for the first time,” DeLlanos said. “They are just a spectacular group of kids and I really hope this experience just continues on throughout high school.”
“These high schoolers are very much more experienced, and they took these middle schoolers under their wings and showed them how to do things while doing all of the stuff they had to do,” she praised the older students.
“I’m so proud of this cast for pulling this all together and working so hard,” she added.
According to varsity choir member and the show’s lead actress Chevy Mills, students even receive grades for their participation in these productions.
“We have a theater class here, and in the fall they do the play and in the spring they do the musical,” Musical Production Manger Tori Kenel said.
These students filled roles in costuming, marketing, set and artistic design, stagehand crews, tech crews, and stage managing.
The costume crew showed their attention to details through thoughtful costuming moments like the sparkling dresses for the under the sea choir, monochromatic outfits for Sebastian and Ariel’s sisters, and even the whimsical tutu for Flounder.
“There were a lot of costume changes, lots of people to costume, and there were a lot of homemade costumes,” she said.
“Averie [Senn] and Alex [Farley] both showed up to class one day with their sewing machines and they were good to go,” Kenel said. “Averie did the mermaid tales, that was quite an undertaking. She had some assistance, but that was mainly her. Alex made her own Ursula costume, which was amazing.”
“The entire costume crew has been non-stop busy,” she added. “You should have seen their to-do list, but they got it all done.”
According to Kenel, two of the students on tech crew, Morgan Jones and Kennedy Herrick are not current theater class students, but committed to helping with productions, anyway.
“They took theater class awhile back,” Kenel explained. “They committed to continuing even if class didn’t fit into their schedule.”
The production’s marketing crew consisted of Izebella Dusenberry and Liberty Henderson. They not only created posters to advertise for the event, but they tracked information using spread sheets as they learned about marketing.
A team of students lead the charge for all of the set and artistic design for The Little Mermaid Jr.
“They had to build some things from scratch and figure it out,” Kenel shared.
According to Kenel once the set crew completed their builds, the artistic design crew had to figure out how to make the set appear to be under the sea.
This student led production showed considerable understanding for the ins and outs of the theater world.