Little Mermaid comes to life in Oxford

Prince Eric (Chase Williams) and Ariel (Heidi Allen) during a dress rehearsal this past Saturday. Photo by D. Rush

Shows at OHS start tomorrow

By Don Rush

Since Disney first brought to life the The Little Mermaid as an animated musical in 1989 the film was labeled a classic love story. Starting tomorrow, Thursday and running through Sunday, March 19, Oxford High School Theater will present the musical.

The Little Mermaid is a beautiful show that reminds us that home is not solely where you are born –sometimes it’s a place you must find for yourself,” said the show’s director Krista Price.

For those who don’t know, the Little Mermaid is based on one of Hans Christian Anderson’s story. Much of the story takes place in a magical kingdom beneath the sea. There, a beautiful young mermaid, Ariel (played by Junior Heidi Allen), longs to leave her ocean home to live in the world above. Ariel is also King Triton’s youngest daughter. She wants to leave his kingdom because of her love of the human Prince Eric (played by Junior Chase Williams) in the world above. She bargains with the evil sea witch, Ursula (played by Senior Layni Chaisson), to trade her mermaid’s tail for human legs. But, according to the literature, “the bargain is not what it seems,” and Ariel needs the help of her colorful friends, Flounder the fish (played by Clear Lake fourth grader Shawn Butts), Scuttle the seagull (played by Junior Jadon Ebeling) and Sebastian the crab (played by Senior Zander Brown) to restore order under the sea. Including the leads, the cast is made of 66 students.

The play music is by by eight-time Academy Award winner, Alan Menken, with lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater and a book by Doug Wright, this fishy fable will capture your heart with its irresistible songs, including “Under the Sea,” “Kiss the Girl” and “Part of Your World.” The vocal director is Leo Humbach and the Pit Conductors are Marissa Weller and Jim Gibbons. There are 32 students in the orchestra pit. Dance routines were choreographed by Dana Brewer.

According to Price, casting and production teams started in October. Rehearsals started in January.

Sets for the shows are magical in themselves and it took a crew of 50 students and adults to complete. Lighting and bolts of fabric help bring to life that is under the sea. During the performance, both Ariel and Prince Eric “swim” above the ocean floor with a series of ropes, tracks, pulleys, counterweights, high-strength aircraft cable, and custom-fit harnesses. Flight director Brian Owens (of ZFX Flying Effects) trained a hand-picked crew of operators in order to have safe and repeatable flying choreography take place during rehearsals and performances.

I personally have loved dreaming big with this show, and watching our team of staff and volunteers move from seemingly impossible ideas to the creation of truly stunning worlds,” Price said. “From flying actors, to building ships, to designing flying butterflies — we have created a beautiful show with spectacle and heart — one that all ages of audience members can enjoy.”

She added, “Community is very important in the theater, and these are a really great group of kids to work with.”

She thanked the directors, cast, orchestra, the 27 student crew, plus the volunteers who help with hair, wigs, make-up, box office, house management and ushers.

There are 7 p.m. shows at the OHS Performing Arts Center on Thursday, Friday and Saturday; with 2 p.m. matinees on Saturday and Sunday. Reserved tickets are $20 each; General Admission tickets cost $15 for adults and $10 for students. Oxford Students are free with ID on opening night only – until sold out. Tickets can be purchased at



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