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Twinsburg Community Theatre ventures 'under the sea' for 'The Little Mermaid'

Cast and crew have been working toward Jan. 20 since summer

By APRIL HELMS Reporter Published: January 16, 2017 10:59 AM
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TWINSBURG -- The Twinsburg High School auditorium was bustling Jan. 4, as the cast and crew with Twinsburg Community Theatre's production of Disney's "The Little Mermaid" prepared for the musical's opening night Jan. 20.

Just outside the auditorium, volunteer Marlisa Crichlow was busy working on the 150 costumes needed for the production, some of which are made, some rented. The tables outside the auditorium during the rehearsal were covered with sewing machines, costumes in progress, bolts of cloth, thread and other supplies.

"We've been working on this since summer," Crichlow said as she worked on one of the seaweed dancer's costumes.

Crichlow, a Twinsburg resident, said she first became involved with the Twinsburg Community Theatre as an actress in "The Music Man." Since then, she has helped as a seamstress.

Trish Thornton, another seamstress and Twinsburg resident, said the most challenging part of costuming this year was "making our own patterns" for the denizens under the sea.

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There are 98 cast members for The Little Mermaid -- which is actually small for Twinsburg Community Theatre, said Jim Volkert, producing director.

"This is the smallest big show we've had," Volkert said. "It's about 50 less (actors) than we usually have. A big part was costuming restrictions."

Volkert said the production will pack a lot of magical moments onstage, including the use of flying equipment.

"When Ariel changes from a mermaid into a human, she will rise up above the stage and her tail will drop. Scuttle (Ariel's seagull friend) will fly across the stage. There's a lot of technical stuff. There's 60 to 70 lighting instruments, and all our leads have wireless mics. We have people who do nothing but mics. We have at least 30 people doing tech stuff."

Artistic Director Shonna Talley Nitzel said "The Little Mermaid" has been "a very challenging show, but also magical."

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"I mean, who doesn't love a mermaid?" Nitzel said.

She held up a canvas bag she bought that said "Always be yourself. Unless you can be a mermaid. Then always be a mermaid."

Olivia Sharp, who is playing the titular mermaid Ariel, said she has wanted to be a Disney princess "for as long as I can remember."

"As a kid I was obsessed with the book you get in Disney that you can fill with pictures and autographs," said Sharp, a 14-year-old freshman at Twinsburg High School. "Both books I had had pictures with Ariel and her autograph ... as soon as I found out I was cast as Ariel I looked at my first book from when I was 3. It was insane to think that I'd be making people as happy as I was when I met her, it's a complete dream come true! Already working with the cast and getting to be Ariel is an out-of-body experience with the kind responses I've got from others. I'm fulfilling two dreams and I might be inspiring more. That's the most amazing thing I could possibly think of to do as an actress!"

David Ludick, who plays Sebastian, said he was "amazed by the musical talent the cast had."

"I remember when I went to my first vocal rehearsal, which was for the song 'Under The Sea,'" said Ludick, who grew up in Aurora and currently lives in Kent. "I expected the typical 'men line up here, women line up here, and sing' but I was blown away. In the first rehearsal, our musical director had the chorus singing 4-, 5-part harmonies, and many of the people in the choir are kids! I have previously worked with Shonna Nitzel before when she was my boss at an acting camp in Aurora I worked at for a summer, so it's great to work with her again.

"I haven't been in a production for four years, but with the excellent crew she has put together, I feel like I never left the stage. Jim Volkert, the producing director, is great to work with. He really questions each characters intentions, and really gets a lot out of his actors, myself included."

Show information

Performances are in the Twinsburg High School Auditorium on Jan. 20, 21, 27 at 7 p.m., and Jan. 22, 28 and 29 at 2 p.m. The high school is at 10084 Ravenna Road. Tickets are available through TwinsburgTheatre.com, or at the door.

Canned food collection

"The Little Mermaid's" Title sponsor, Strachan Novak Insurance, is challenging all attendees to bring at least five canned goods or nonperishable products to benefit Our Community Hunger Center in Twinsburg. The center recently reported that they were able to serve nearly 15,000 area-residents in 2016, nearly twice the number served the previous year.

Attendees who drop off five items or more at the Strachan Novak Insurance table on show night will receive a coupon for a free popcorn or $1 off any concession stand item. Coupons are limited to one per person.


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