Curtain goes up next week on county schools’ production of ‘The Little Mermaid’

Published 11:00 am Thursday, February 9, 2023

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Next weekend’s performance of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” pulls together students from four different high schools, home schools and LBW who have spent almost every Saturday since last October preparing for this year’s show.

The show, a production of Covington County Schools Collaborative Arts, includes sets built by high school students on Straughn High School’s campus, that are yet to be transported to LBW Community College where the curtain will go up on the show February 17-19.

It might sound like a nearly-impossible undertaking, but director Jennifer Withrow, who teaches English at Pleasant Home, is taking it all in stride. It is, after all, the third time she’s directed a show in the same circumstances.

“This show is going to be simply fantastic,” she said after a recent rehearsal. “I am absolutely impressed and amazed this group of young adults I get to work with.”

The Collaborative Arts program was born of a desire to give Covington County Schools students an opportunity to experience the arts, even though drama, art and music aren’t taught at the high school level. The teachers volunteer their time, and production costs are primarily funded by an Alabama State Council on the Arts grant. Additional support has been provided by PowerSouth, Southern Independent Bank, CCB Community Bank, LBW Community College, Pepsi Bottling of Luverne and the Andalusia Rotary Club.

Withrow said choosing a show for this year was difficult, following a very successful run of ”Beauty and the Beast” last year. She chose “Mermaid” for this year’s performance because it’s a fun, familiar show with roles that require a range of skills.

“I knew ‘Beauty and the Beast’ was going to be hard to follow, but I felt like ‘The Little Mermaid’ would be a show that would allow all our students to shine and for me to push some of my more experienced actors and expand their resumes with different types of roles,” she said. “A Disney show is always so much fun with large ensemble numbers that showcase every student; being so recognizable always makes them a crowd pleaser for families.”

Straughn High School senior Khloe Craig is cast in the lead role as Ariel, a little mermaid who longs to be human. SHS sophomore Christian Pate is Prince Eric, the adventurous prince who captures Ariel’s heart.

Neither is a stranger to the stage.

Craig’s previous roles include the Queen of Hearts in “Alice in Wonderland” and Babette/Belle understudy in “Beauty and the Beast.” Pate’s stage experience includes White Rabbit in “Alice in Wonderland,” Avery Arable in “Charlotte’s Web,” Tom in “Ladies of the Jury,” and Lefou in “Beauty and the Beast.”

Other cast members include Ashton Teel as Grimsby; Orrin Douglas as Flounder; Jenna Kimbril as Scuttle/Mersister Andrina; Luke Gay as King Triton; Xion Withrow as Sebastian; Leyton Kidd as Flotsam; Era Grace Lowry as Jetsam/Mersista Attina; Sophia Tucci as Ursula; Drew Griffin as Chef Louis; Kayla Stephens as Mersister Aquata; Anita Perrin as Mersista Arista; Catherine Kime as Mersista Adella; and Hannah Griffin as Mersister Alana.

Ensemble members include Jessica Albright, Bri Cowan, Anna Claire Godwin, Mary Gradce Hammett, Greyson Hancock, Megan Jernigan, Neal Lowry, Karle Spivey, Gretchen Varner, Sheena Watson and Trent Williams.

Beth Dean and Joy Sowards, both of whom work in the Covington County Schools sytem, taught the students the music for “Mermaid.” Kara Foreman choreographed the dance portions. Tina Shiver and Jordan Wood are directing the set design and stage crew.

Members of the backstage and set crew include Reagan Bartholomew, Maddie Bedsole, Kenzie Castleberry, Kaden Giroir, Gabe Jones, Savannah Neal, Karter Palmer, Samantha Peek, Layne Vidich and Lauren Wood. All are Straughn students.

Show times are at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 17 and 18, and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 19.

Tickets are $10 each, and are available at each of the county high schools (Red Level, Straughn, Pleasant Home and Florala), and in the Andalusia branches of CCB Community Bank and Southern Independent Bank.