“The Little Mermaid” opens at Boyle County Schools

Published 3:38 pm Thursday, April 13, 2023

Boyle County students are performing “The Little Mermaid” at the Boyle County Performing Arts Center, and opening night is tonight. The show runs from April 13 to 15, and 20 to 22 at 7 p.m.

There will be a costume contest on opening night, and Whitaker Bank is sponsoring snacks. Attendees can dress up and there’s a prize for the best costume.

Director Maggie Jenkins said there are about 50 kids in the musical, mainly from three different classes. She teaches a musical theater class with 31 students; Technical Director Kolton Winfield’s tech theater class has 15 students; and a middle school dance class has 13 students.

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Many of the show’s students are part of the new Boyle County Arts Academy. Jenkins said this show is one of the first big shows since the Arts Academy started this school year.

“That makes it fun when you’re working with kids who love theater and want to be here,” Jenkins said. “We also have a great team; our whole Arts Academy staff is involved – the music director, choir teacher, dance teacher, etc.”

On April 22 there will be a character breakfast where people can play games with characters in costume. People can buy tickets for it that are separate from the show.

Being her first year in the job, Jenkins said she was glad they got a say in picking the musical. They wanted to do a show that was big and exciting, and when they thought of “The Little Mermaid,” it made sense.

Much of the set decorations are made from recycled plastic. The seaweed at the back of the underwater set is pieces of green plastic bottles, and the bubbles are cut pieces of water bottles.

Jenkins said they wanted to think about conservation when designing the set. Many of the costume pieces are from donations and second hand sales.

The cast has also documented the process of putting together the show by making vlogs on the Boyle County Theater Youtube channel. They have made eight episodes from the cast reveal up to final rehearsals. They’ve also made TikTok videos to promote the show.

Junior Demani Bell, who plays Prince Eric, said the show is very personalized and made unique by Boyle students. He played a big part in making the documentaries, and has been doing theater since fifth or sixth grade.

“I’m excited to hear people’s reactions; you work for so many months, and you want to give people that experience that you’ve been working towards,” Bell said. “I like how creative it is; as a cast we’re very fun and we get together well, and Maggie’s so smart and she listens to us.”

Senior Laynee Greer plays Ariel. She’s been in several local productions, including at West T. Hill Theater. She said she’s always loved Disney princesses, and loves all the music in the show.

“It’s been a great experience; my favorite scene is probably the storm scene or ‘Under the Sea,’” Greer said.

Senior Tristan Harris, who plays Sebastian, said he loves how creative the set is, and that it was made by students.

“With how creative it is, this is definitely one of the best produced shows I’ve ever been in, the best looking, and the best sounding,” Harris said.

Being in many theater productions since age 7, Harris said he wanted to play a fun character after being on a streak of playing serious characters – like the Beast in Beauty and the Beast, and Prince Charming in Cinderella.

“I wanted to play a fun character where I get to be over-the-top and whimsical, so I really wanted to be Sebastian,” he said.

Other students playing major characters include junior Austin Gorley as King Triton; sophomore Sean Guiney as Prince Eric’s advisor Grimsby; and Alex King as Ursula.