Theatre Arts For Kids is proud to present The Little Mermaid Jr. The story follows Ariel, a curious teenage mermaid with a wanderlust for the human world, as she explores life above and under the sea. Being the daughter of King Triton, ruler of the ocean, she has to follow a lot of strict rules and Ariel wants nothing more than to break free from her father’s leash. In her desperation to be a part of the human world and to see Prince Eric﹘the love of her life﹘she ends up selling her voice to the sea witch Ursula in exchange for a few days on shore. With the help of her loyal friends, Sebastian the crab, Scuttle the seagull, and Flounder the fish, Ariel navigates the human world with all its intricacies while facing the evil witch.
This story is a classic tale that has warmed the hearts of children and parents alike, but what is even more heartwarming has been the process of creating this production. The cast is made up of an extremely talented and driven group of 3-8 year olds. They learn lines, songs, choreography, and along the way they pick up life skills and find what makes them unique. Mary Friesen, mother of the kid who plays Flounder, said, “Theatre has given Josie a confidence that she hasn’t received from anything else. It allows her to be creative and express herself… and more importantly, it allows her to be HER.” This self-assurance is one of many aspects that Theatre Arts For Kids’ artistic director, Leah Kolar, prides herself on, and she wants it to be available to anyone. Recently the program has partnered with Down Syndrome Association for Families of Nebraska in getting children with Down Syndrome and other disabilities involved in theatre through scholarship opportunities and special mentorship at rehearsals. This project is known as Wish Fish. If you attend Little Mermaid, you will see several Wish Fish dancing their hearts out in the show.
One of these Wish Fish is a boy named Andy Brockmeier. Andy (age 5), with help from his assistant Harper (age 8), has been thrilled to experience all the aspects of theatre. He said that he likes the singing and dancing, and has made a lot of friends while he has been a part of the program. He also informed me that this isn’t his first rodeo. Andy has been in several Theatre Arts for Kids productions, his favorite being “Orphan Twins” last semester.
Not only does Theatre Arts For Kids offer a variety of different performing opportunities to kids of all ages, but there are also a lot of leadership opportunities. The Little Mermaid has a group of six student co-directors headed by Ellyson Stolcpart and Brea McClintock. Brea (age 13) is an eighth grader at Norris, and has been extremely devoted to Theatre Arts For Kids for years, which she says has been very beneficial in her life. Her job for this production is to stage the scenes with the kids, choreograph some of the dance numbers, as well as keep everything running smoothly during rehearsals. In order to have a leadership role like this there is certain criteria required. “I had to take director training over the summer with Leah where she taught us a lot about directing. I’ve also been an assistant for a long time so she trusts me,” said McClintock. Hers is not the only story like this one; there are many assistants who come to every rehearsal in order to ensure the success of the young actors, as well as work their way up to eventually have a chance to direct or stage manage a production at Theatre Arts For Kids. The end goal is always the same, to make a show they can be proud of and to see the growth that three months of practice can bring to them. “It’s fun teaching them and watching them grow,” states McClintock.
If you want to see all of these amazingly dedicated kids in action, you won’t want to miss The Little Mermaid Jr. Performances are March 23rd at 2pm and 4pm at Christ Lincoln on 43rd and Sumner. For tickets or more information about Theatre Arts For Kids, visit TAFK.ORG. This production is brought to you in part by the generous support of the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment.
As always, if you enjoyed this content, follow us on Facebook and join our email list!