Disney's 'The Little Mermaid, Jr.' opens at the Andria Theatre in Alexandria Aug. 3
The show, a Student Theatre Project, has a cast of 49 students.
ALEXANDRIA — “This show is a blast for the entire family,” David Christman said of the upcoming Student Theatre Project – Disney’s “The Little Mermaid, Jr.”
Christman is the director of the show, which opens at the Andria Theatre Wednesday, Aug. 3.
He said people should see the show because, “The cast is powerful and it includes all the musical favorites plus songs that were not in the movie.”
There are 49 students involved in “The Little Mermaid,” said Christman, noting that the largest cast he has ever directed had 63 members. The ages for students in STP range from 10 to 18.
Student Theatre Project productions have been taking place at the Andria Theatre since 2011.
When asked what it is like directing such a large cast, Christman said, “You have to have a great team of directors and technicians.”
This show, he said, has an “amazing team” and that there are 12 individuals that make up the staff of the STP program.
Being a part of the STP program and directing students can sometimes be tough and challenging and even frightening, Christman said, but also added that he loves to give audiences more than they expect and that he likes creating a project with all the students.
“Watching our students graduate and still come back no matter how long it has been, just to say hi is one of my favorite parts of STP,” he said. “We never forget them. We have a great family here at the Andria.”
Fun, family environment
Jackson Waltzing, 13, an eighth-grader at Discovery Middle School in Alexandria, plays Prince Eric in this production of “The Little Mermaid, Jr.”
He said he loves being in shows at the Andria because it is a fun and family environment. Plus, he said in this show he gets to sing, which is something he said he can’t do while playing sports with his friends. Waltzing plays football, baseball and is a wrestler.
And apparently it's something he doesn’t do at home very often because, he said laughing, “My family wants me to be quiet.”
Waltzing describes his character, Prince Eric, as a really sweet, gentlemanly kind of guy who just wants to find someone.
A couple of his favorite songs in the show are “Les Poissons,” which he said is a fun song sung by Chef Louis, who is played by Gavyn Schmidt.
“The way Gavyn sings, it is great,” he said.
He also likes the song, “She’s in Love,” because the melody is pretty. The Mersisters and Flounder sing that song.
He thinks people should come to the show to get away from their “screens.” He said people, including himself, spend too much time on their cellphones, watching TV or on other devices and that going to the play is a great way to limit screen time.
He also said, “There’s a lot of talent and new people who should be admired for the work they have put into it.”
A theater family
Savannah Auran, 16, a tenth-grader at Alexandria Area High School, has been in about nine productions at Andria Theatre. In this production of “The Little Mermaid, Jr.” she is playing the role of Ariel, her first big role since she played Princess Jasmine in “Aladdin, Jr.” in July 2021.
“Ariel is a mermaid who just wants to be human,” said Auran. “She is fascinated by land, but there is a divide between the mer-people and land-people.”
She added that Ariel meets a human boy when she rescues him at sea and they fall in love and she needs to be with him and that their story unfolds during the play.
Although she sings several songs in the play, her favorite is “Part of Your World,” because she said it is right in her vocal range.
“That one is just so perfect,” she said, noting that like Waltzing, she also loves “She’s in Love,” because it’s very theatrical and a sassy song, too. She also got to help her brother, Tai, with the choreography on that song.
Auran has four siblings – three sisters and one brother – and all but the youngest sister has been in plays at the Andria. The only reason the youngest hasn’t, she said, is because she is still too young.
Although her parents were not involved in theater, she said they are musical. Her dad plays bass and her mom plays violin. She said they are a musical family and a theater family. Two of her sisters are in “The Little Mermaid, Jr.” with her and her brother not only helps with the choreography, he is also the backstage assistant.
Some might be surprised to find out that as much as Auran loves being on stage, she still gets stage fright, she said.
“Being on stage is scary because it makes me so nervous,” she said. “But it all goes away after a few minutes. Once a scene gets going and I can show off my hard work, it gets better.”
Auran shared some advice for those who might feel the same way. For those who are thinking about trying out for a play, but are scared because they think they might get stage fright, she said, “Just go for it. Ask for an ensemble role. Start at the bottom and work your way up. But just take that first step. Even if you are scared, you won’t know your potential unless you try.”
She said she is proud of herself for trying and that she believes acting is something she could see herself doing long-term.
Auran also said that people need to see the show because, “It’s truly a magical experience!”
Ariel – Savannah Auran
Prince Eric – Jackson Waltzing
Grimsby – Niklas Cook
Sea horse/sea chorus – Charlee Sinning
King Triton – Elijah Heem
Sebastian – Kianna Spates
Scuttle – Roxanne Sweetwater
Ursala – Leah Zenner
Flotsam – Jordan VanScoik
Jetsam – Jayme O’Brien
Flounder – Addy Auran
Carlotta – Jolie Tung
Chef Louis – Gavyn Schmidt
Pilot/ensemble – Zoe Swor
Sea chorus ensemble – Adeline Hunter, Addison Larson, Allie Johnson, Ava Love, Brooklyn Bohl, Brynne Denny, Claire Williams, Elena Heinen, Ella Downing, Emory Auran, Emma Reishus, Kyler Andreasen, Lillian Graf, Kenley Thoennes, Montana Hinnenkamp and Jolie Thung
Sailors – Brady Haabala, Brayden Zollner, Alice Novotny, Anja Heem, Finlee Monette, Finley Paulson, Fiona Schmidt and Olivia Zollner
Mersisters – Marhi Kolar (Aquata), Kylee Dummer (Atina), Alexis Loosbrock (Andrina), Mia Meier (Arista), Lily Eken (Adella) and Linnea Hoven (Allana)
Gulls – Lexi Dummer, Lucy Bertram and Kendall Elmer
Princesses ensemble – Alice Novotny, Anja Heem, Finlee Monette, Finley Paulson, Fiona Schmidt and Olivia Zollner
Chefs – Zoe Swor, Brady Haabala, Brayden Zollner, Marhi Kolar, Kylee Dummer, Alexis Loosbrock, Mia Meier, Lily Eken and Linnea Hoven
Director – David Christman
Assistant director – Holly Wallerich
Music director – Cindy Roos
Choreographer – Michael Malherek
Set design – Donna Magnuson
Set construction – Greg Bohl
Lighting design and technician – Maryn Cabanaw
Sound technician – Greg Raether
Costumer designer – Holly Wallerich
Costume construction – Danielle Jahnke
Hair and makeup – KD Tomoson
Backstage manager – Ailee Valezquez
Backstage assistant – Tai Auran
Props – Hilary Ninman
Soundtracks and projections – Holly Wallerich
Videographer – Colton LaSota
If you go
WHAT: Disney’s “The Little Mermaid Jr.”
WHEN: Aug. 3-6 and Aug. 10-13 with all shows at 7 p.m.
WHERE: Andria Theatre, 618 Broadway St., Alexandria
TICKETS: Go to www.andriatheatre.org or call the box office at 320-762-8300.