Bringing life ‘Under the Sea’ above water


Madelyn Knight

Junior Alicia May and senior Dylan Schaffer portray bringing the underwater life to shore in musical rehearsals for Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ which will be performed on Nov. 18, 19 and 20. Photo by Madelyn Knight

Madison Smith , Reporter

The lights will dim. The chatter in the crowd will diminish. The curtains will slide open, revealing… this year’s musical, Disney’s The Little Mermaid!  Yes, this starts off like every other prior show the theater department has put on. But what lies beyond those velvet curtains is unlike anything that has been done here at SHS before.

“I think to compare it to Grease last year, it’s like comparing apples to oranges,” choir teacher Katherine Doty said.

With most of the previous plays and musicals being set in buildings and other above sea-level locations, the same types of sets, backdrops, and props could be reused. But this year, the underwater adventures of the creatures in The Little Mermaid pose a bit of a dilemma. The cast and crew now face the ocean-wide task of bringing life under the sea to the surface.

“This year we are going to do a projected backdrop,” audio engineer Cody Wakefield said. “So, we are going to actually have a live-action animation going on behind the entire set.”

The idea of using projections as another means of background has actually been around for quite some time. The SHS Theater Department has decided to try this new method because it is less expensive and much more enticing than the traditional backdrops of the past.

Upon assessing and solving the backdrop situation, there was still one hitch: making the actors appear as if they are swimming. For this, ideas were taken from various Broadway productions. In those shows, actors wore roller skates to give the image of the character gliding through the water.  As normal roller skates could potentially be a hazard for the young actors, a much more unique plan was devised: Heelys. Yes, Heelys. You see, back at the turn of the century, a patent was granted for a hybrid shoe: a tennis shoe with a roller skate wheel imbedded in the heel. This wheel allowed the wearer to roll, instead of walk, when weight was shifted to the heel of the shoe.

“We were thinking, rather than using roller skates, something a little more doable for the students,” said Wakefield. “This way, they can still walk around and dance, but then we still get that sensation of them gliding across the stage.”

Backgrounds flowing, characters gliding, props and colors galore. SHS’s rendition of Disney’s The Little Mermaid is set to be a trailblazer for the making and producing of any and all future productions.

This performance could very well be a throwback into the childhoods of the Cardinal student body. Everyone from freshmen to seniors will be beckoned by this childhood favorite and enticed by the nostalgia from their days as young guppies.

For anyone interested in seeing this Disney classic revamped in a way that only SHS performers and creators can do, there will be performances on three different days. Both tonight and tomorrow, there will be performances at 7:00 p.m. For an earlier showing, there will be a 2:30 p.m. performance both tomorrow and Sunday, Nov. 20. So come one, come all! Submerge yourself into the world of Ariel, Flounder and the gang.