EXETER — Senior Jacob Schelinksi spent the last few years as the Wyoming Area Drama Club’s stage manager, but never got on stage himself.
This year, the 17-year-old changed that by taking on the role of Prince Eric in the Thespian Troupe #4795’s presentation of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.”
“For my last show, I figured that all of my friends are actors, and it would be fun to be on stage with them again,” Schelinski said of the school’s spring musical. ” I did do community theater when I was younger.”
“The Little Mermaid” is based on the 1989 Disney movie about the mermaid Ariel as she seeks to become a human and live on land.
The performances will be at 7 p.m. Friday, April 27 and Saturday, April 28; and at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 29. Tickets are available at the door and will be on sale from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, April 23 to Thursday, April 26 in the Secondary Center Lobby.
For show director Kate Mangan, the idea of ending the school year with a piece of nostalgia for her older students was too good to pass up.
“They were very excited,” she said. “I think it’s such an iconic piece of them growing up and I think it’s perfect timing, because so many of them do graduate. It’s a little bit of childhood before that next step into the real world.”
The cast for “The Little Mermaid” includes 50 students consisting of mostly females, but Mangan said most of the roles in the show are gender neutral, so there was a role for everyone.
A difficult aspect of preparing for the show, she said, is learning the music as the play is based on the Broadway show where there are songs not included in the movie.
“The music is very intricate,” she said. “While they know some of the songs, the Broadway score is much different. They’ve been doing great with it, but it was definitely not an easy task.”
Despite the differences between the movie and the show, that hasn’t stopped the students — as well as Mangan — from re-watching the classic film to refresh their memories and relive their childhood.
Senior Jessica Walkowiak, 18, who plays one of Ariel’s sisters, said she wasted no time in watching it.
“Some of us have,” she said. “We went home and watched it together, and it was fun.”
Walkowiak also noted that, because the students are familiar with the movie, watching it also helped them prepare for their roles.
“We already know who the characters are and we kind of get to know a little more about them,” she said. “We’ve seen them on TV, and we pretty much know who they are.”
One cast member who’s studied her role a lot is senior Olivia Williams, 17, who plays Ariel.
Williams said she’s re-watched the movie several times, and even went as far as dying her hair red for the role.
“I’ve actually been in the ensemble for the past three years and I always thought it’d be cool to go out for a bigger role,” she said. “So, I did and it turned out very well. I’m really appreciative that I ended up with the opportunity to do this.”
Williams also has the challenge of portraying Ariel after she’s lost her voice, so her body language is what will have to keep the audience engaged during those scenes.
To prepare for those scenes, she’s studied the movie and watched other clips.
“I watch the movie a lot to help me with it and I watch a lot of stuff on YouTube to see how people do it,” she said. “It’s the most comfortable for me.”
While the show is filled with talented and experience students, some of the community’s younger performers are getting involved as well, such as 8-year-old Giana Federici, who is playing the role of a turtle and was offered a spot in the show, thanks to her older sister.
Her performance in the “The Little Mermaid” will be her acting debut, and Federici is looking forward to her big day.
“(I’m excited) to be on stage,” she said.
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher