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RACINE — A popular Disney film from three decades ago will again come to life starting this weekend in Racine.

The cast and crew of “The Little Mermaid,” led by Director Douglas Instenes, Musical Director Greg Berg and Choreographer Mary Leigh Sturino, will take the stage Friday, Dec. 9, through Sunday, Dec. 18, at the Racine Theatre Guild, 2519 Northwestern Ave.

The Little Mermaid
Ariel (Elisebeth Sparks) longs to explore the world of humans up above. – Credit: Michael Steinbach / Bach Photography

Performances for “The Little Mermaid” will be held Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors (62 and older) and $15 for students (21 and younger). Groups of 12 or more can purchase discounted tickets.

The Little Mermaid
Prince Eric (Andrew Dorst) and Ariel (Elisebeth Sparks) cannot deny their love for each other. – Credit: Michael Steinbach / Bach Photography

“It’s always a little exciting to do a show that is beloved by so many,” Instenes said. “However, that comes with a challenge to do it justice.

“Since people know all the words and have a clear idea of what the characters look and act like, you have to honor that memory, but find other creative ways to bring it to life. The musical is very similar to the movie, but there are some differences that hopefully will make it fun for the audience. It’s not just a copy of the movie.”

Sturino is equally as excited to see everything come together.

The Little Mermaid
Chef Louis (Tom Sturino) battles it out for dinner with Sebastian (Paul Marquez). – Credit: Michael Steinbach / Bach Photography

“I love ‘The Little Mermaid,’ so I’ve been looking forward to it since I signed my contract,” she said. “I really love the original music that’s additional to the Broadway version. It’s so fun. This cast is incredible.

“Folks (who attend) can expect to see a ton of color and beautiful costumes, a ton of singing and dancing, and it’s nice and short, just a little over two hours with a quick intermission. The whole cast and crew have been working really hard to bring a ton of energy and fun to the show.”

‘The Little Mermaid’ synopsis

The Little Mermaid
King Triton (Norgie Metzinger) shares a moment under the sea with his daughter, Ariel (Elisebeth Sparks). – Credit: Michael Steinbach / Bach Photography

“The Little Mermaid” debuted in 1989. The story follows Ariel, a young mermaid, who falls in love with a human prince, Eric. Ariel longs to leave her ocean home – and her fins – below and live in the world above. Although her father, King Triton, forbids her from journeying onto land, she makes a deal with the evil sea witch, Ursula, and sells her voice for a pair of legs.

With the help of her sea creature friends, Scuttle the Seagull, Flounder the Fish, and Sebastian the Crab, Ariel fights for Eric and her place in the world. 

Featuring classics from the movie, like “Part of Your World,” “Kiss the Girl,” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” the musical also has new favorites for the entire family to enjoy.

Local cast

The Little Mermaid
Chef Louis (Tom Sturino – holding meat cleaver) and his sous chefs have prepared a seafood smorgasbord (Front: Ender Barnlund, Mylah Beardsley, Winter Newell, Aiden Barnlund; Middle: Zak Butler, AJ Garcia-Malacara, Jousé Torres, Joseph Kramer; Back: Dedrick Woods, Mark Minch, Katie Gleason). – Credit: Michael Steinbach / Bach Photography

The cast includes Elisebeth Sparks as Ariel and Andrew Dorst as Prince Eric. Ariel’s friends Sebastian (played by Paul Marquez), Flounder (Addison Wytonick) and Scuttle (Kaylee Annable) try to help her along the way. Her father, King Triton (Norgie Metzinger), and sisters, Aquata (Maddie Anderlik), Atina (Erin Barnlund), Andrina (Isabella Bullock), Arista (Jenna Speer), Adella (Hannah Rose Schoene) and Allana (Maren Van Schyndel) want her to stay in the sea.

The Little Mermaid
Prince Eric (Andrew Dorst – center in vest) leads Grimsby (Dan Venne – on Andrew’s left in coat) and his sailors across the open sea (Katie Gleason, Zak Butler, Joseph Kramer, Dedrick Woods, Mark Minch, Tom Sturino). – Credit: Michael Steinbach / Bach Photography

Ursula (Lauren Haumersen) and her eel minions, Flostam (Katy Walker) and Jetsam (Marcus Sorenson) try to foil Ariel’s plans. On land, Grimbsy (Dan Venne) tries to reason with Eric, and Chef Louis (Tom Sturino) causes havoc for Sebastian.

Ensemble members include Aiden Barnlund, Ender Barnlund, Mylah Beardsley, Zak Butler, A.J. Garcia-Malacara, Katie Gleason, Joseph Kramer, Mark Minch, Winter Newell, Josue Torres and Dedrick Woods.

Special choreography elements

To add to the choreography, many of the performers in “The Little Mermaid” will be in Heely shoes – original skate shoes with wheels, Mary Leigh Sturino said.

The Little Mermaid
King Triton (Norgie Metzinger) is frustrated by his daughters’ enthusiasm (Maddie Anderlik, Isabella Bullock, Jenna Speer, Hannah Rose Schoene, Erin Barnlund, Maren Van Schyndel). – Credit: Michael Steinbach / Bach Photography

“We have all of the mermaid sisters, as well as Ariel, Flounder, Flotsam and Jetsam in shoes, whose heels are wheels,” she said. “It took a lot of work and extra effort to master them, but the cast is doing beautifully, and it really adds a very fun underwater-like element to the movement,” she said.

“Then with any show, I just break it down into sections of people (who) are in the particular song and get to work. It’s tricky not to make Ursula’s two songs look exactly the same.”

Having her husband, Tom, who plays Chef Louis while making his Racine Theatre Guild debut, along for the production has been a special added bonus, Mary Leigh said.

“Having my husband in the show is something we’ve always known would happen,” she said. “He is a fantastic musician and great mover and dancer. 

“One of my favorite things about him, when we met, was how he really enjoyed seeing and doing theatre, but didn’t do it for a profession like me. (This is the) best of both worlds. I will say, with two small kids, the schedule was a little crazy at times, but we made it work with some help.”

There have been a number of moving parts and plenty of work put in to make this all happen, Instenes said.

“The show has many technical challenges that we are working through this week,” he said. “Special wave lights are being installed, as well as the scenery that flies in and out. Volunteers are busy making the 100 or so costumes for the show.

The Little Mermaid
Ursula (Lauren Haumersen), Flotsam (Katy Walker) and Jetsam (Marcus Sorenson) are brewing up trouble for the merfolk. – Credit: Michael Steinbach / Bach Photography

“We have an army of volunteers that have put in countless hours making the costumes, building sets and props and making sure the sound and wireless mics work well. The cast has been in rehearsal for three months and will perform 17 times; eight of those performances are for school children. The volunteers had to take time off of work or school to do this production. It’s a huge time commitment.”

“The Little Mermaid” is sponsored by SC Johnson and made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts.

To purchase tickets, call the Racine Theatre Guild at 262-633-4218, visit www.racinetheater.org or stop by the Box Office weekdays from noon until 6 p.m. and 90 minutes prior to each performance.


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