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Professional set, scenery amp up ‘Little Mermaid’ production

Three of Ariel’s mermaid sisters are portrayed by (from left) Ellie Saur, Hailey Christie and Kennedy Allyn.



Show is tonight through Saturday



As the Hastings Performing Arts Center marks its one-year anniversary, the Hastings High School musical production of “The Little Mermaid,” under the direction of Andrew Moore, will take center stage with its opening night tonight.

This year marks many firsts for the HHS musical, as well as the performing arts center, pit director Spencer White said, noting that it will be the most technologically advanced musical in the school’s history.

Ten hanging sets and backdrops provide vivid scenery, nearly double last year’s “Beauty and the Beast” and three times as many as at Central Auditorium. The fly, or rigging system, is operated by stagehands Jeff Buehl and Craig Holley.

More than 20 professionally made and painted set pieces are being managed by the 13-member student crew under the leadership of stage manager Dan Hayward. This is the largest crew in the last 15 years, White said. Three student spotlight operators are led by lighting designer Michael Sali.

This year’s production is a result of many partnerships established almost a year ago. White acquired the professional set from the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre and Forest Hills Northern High School. The set has already been sold to Fruitport High School and, following the curtain call Saturday night, the set will be picked up and transported to Fruitport.

White also researched and produced the special effects and drops being used in the show. These effects and professional sets, he said, are the first of their kind in school history.

Emily Hayward is the vocal coach, Whitney Martin-Pennington is assistant director, Hannah LaJoye is choreographer, and Kyle Steward served as the audio mixer. The cast is being costumed by seamstresses Amy Meeker and Jean Ann Wahl Piotrowski.

Based on Hans Christian Andersen's classic story and the animated film, Disney's “The Little Mermaid,” the love story features music by eight-time Academy Award winner Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater and a book by Doug Wright. The fishy fable includes songs such as "Under the Sea," "Kiss the Girl" and "Part of Your World."

As the story goes, Ariel, King Triton's youngest daughter, wishes to pursue the human Prince Eric in the world above. So Ariel makes a bargain with the evil sea witch, Ursula, to trade her tail for legs. But the bargain is not what it seems, and Ariel needs the help of her colorful friends, Flounder the fish, Scuttle the seagull and Sebastian the crab to restore order under the sea.

The tale will be retold in Hastings this weekend by more than 65 HHS students, in order of appearance:

Pilot – Alex Malmquist; Prince Eric – Connor Lindsey; Grimsby – Ian Dexter; Ariel – Nicole Strouse;

Flounder – Valentina Arias; Scuttle – Amy Forsberg; Windward – Gavin Patton; Leeward – Grayson Patton; King Triton – Andre Perez; and Sebastian – Alex Steward.

Mermaid sisters Allana – Makayla Casarez; Aquata – Kennedy Allyn; Andrina – Ellie Saur; Arista – Emma VanDenburg; Atina – Anna Haywood; and Adella – Haily Christie.

Flotsam – Anna Scheck; Jetsam – Grace Green; Ursula – Hannah Slaughter; and Chef Louis – Lucas Richards.

Princesses – Kennedy Allyn, Makayla Casarez, Hannah Bancroft, Kaycie Jenkins, Abby Waller and Aura Wahl-Piotrowski.

Maids – Brenna Klipfer and Chelsea Beede.

Sea Chorus– Xander Allerding, Taylor Arens, Lauren Arnold, Joy Aukerman, Hannah Bancroft, Kassidy Bilger, Audrey Byykkonen, Aubree Donaldson, Paige Eagle, Val Eaton, Lily Faubert, Alex Forsberg, Katlyn Forte, Dylan Gallentine, Abby Gaskill, Gabbie Horrman, Jaelyn Jackson, Kaycie Jenkins, Lilly Johnson, Brenna Klipfer, Gus Malik, Amber Markley, Madison McWhinney, Tiffany Moyer, Gavin Patton, Grayson Patton, Peighton Reser, Lucas Richards, Emily Simmons, Breena Symonds, Alayna Torres, Maddie Traver, Kyler Van Zanten, Hannah Vann, Mitchel Vann, Donovyn Vaughn, Briana Vincent and Aura Wahl-Piotrowski.

Sea Chorus featured dancers – Chelsea Beede, Kierstyn Brisco, Zara Franklin, Hailey Graham, Claire Green, Hannah Johnson, Payton Levett, Natalia Marquez, Elli McFarlan, Julia McLean, Ella Tellkamp and Zoey Tielemans.

Student backstage crew – Katie Clark, Ben Curtis, Elena Friddle, Jasmine Gale, Ryan Hinckley, Lacie Overmire, Will Roosien, Nevaeh Shull, Daniel VanHouten, Owen Wilson and Alena Wunderlich.

Spotlight operators – Zander Botimer, Jenevieve Holtrust and Sam Pattok.

Make-up assistants – Kallie Leary and Kiley Miles.

Both students and adult guest musicians are providing musical accompaniment in the pit orchestra. They include: Blair Anderson, Abby Barton, Shannon Brown, Alivia Cassini, Brandon Darling, Jen Ewers, Connor Frank, Zach Franklin, Steve Hoke, Jesse Hunt, Aihsley Jones, Cindy Kaczmarczyk, David Kaczmarczyk, Patrick Mallory, Matt Matuszek, Nicole Minning, Noelia Moreno, Ross Peterson, Eric Ramey, Mark Ramsey, Emily Sedgwick, Harrison Smalley and Camden Tellkamp.

 “With planning over the course of 12 months, two weeks of auditions, and 10 weeks of rehearsals, this show is absolutely fabulous,” White said. “A true school and community effort has been put forth to make this show something super special.”

Performances will be tonight through Saturday, March 12-14, at 7 p.m. A 2 p.m. matinee is planned Saturday, March 14.

All shows will be at the Hastings Performing Arts Center, 520 W. South St., Hastings.

Tickets are $10 and available online at HastingsHS.SeatYourself.Biz or by calling 269-818-2492. Tickets also may be purchased at the door.

 “You won’t want to miss this incredible production,” White said.

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