Canby High Thespians Look to Make Splash With ‘Little Mermaid’

Canby High School’s talented team of thespians is looking to make a “splash” with their spring musical this year as they present The Little Mermaid, the troupe’s largest and most technically complicated production in several years.

The play tells the classic story of Hans Christian Andersen’s original fishy fable and Disney’s beloved musical adaptation. Released to widespread acclaim in 1989, the animated film marked the start of what’s now known as the Disney Renaissance, and what people my age call “literally our whole entire childhoods.”

The stage adaptation features all the classic characters — including the titular mermaid, Ariel, her father, King Triton, Prince Eric, Sebastian, Ursula, Flounder, Scuttle, and more — but with more depth and nuance than childhood fans of the film may remember.

“The Little Mermaid” features more than 50 students in one the high school’s largest and most ambitious productions ever. Photos by Tyler Francke.
Junior Joel Winningham as Grimsby and senior Davan Page as Prince Eric. Photos by Tyler Francke.

“Eric — he’s not a piece of cardboard,” sophomore Nicole Hoffert explains. “The character development is way better than in the movie. King Triton isn’t just this mean dad figure. You find out he has motivations for the way that he is.”

The musical also features favorite songs from the originals as well as some new numbers.

“I think my favorite song is actually one of the ones that’s unique to the musical,” says Arayah “Ray” Moore, who stars as Ariel. “It’s in Act II: ‘Beyond My Wildest Dreams.’ You get to hear more of her thoughts and really see into her head, and it’s just so fun.”

Senior Arayah “Ray” Moore as Ariel and junior Carter Ward as Flounder. Photos by Tyler Francke.
Senior Alex Calderon as Sebastian. Photos by Tyler Francke.

Moore grew up singing and said music has always been a big part of her home and family life. But water? No, not so much.

“Funny thing about that: I’m actually terrified of the ocean,” Moore says with a laugh. “Just not a fan.”

Freshman Catherine Marquez credited the play’s musical director, Hannah Healey, with helping get the cast into shipshape for the vocally demanding production, which included 10 to 15 hours of rehearsal a week since mid-December (recent snow days notwithstanding).

Senior Tyson Driver as Scuttle, Carter Ward as Flounder and Ray Moore as Ariel. Photos by Tyler Francke.
Senior Owen Lewis as King Triton. Photos by Tyler Francke.

“Hannah has been really great, sitting at the piano and working with us for each individual part,” Marquez says. “A lot of the people that are in the musical are also in choir, so we have a cast that’s really incredibly talented musically.”

Last week’s snow days threw a real wrench into the production schedule, says senior Tyson Driver, who plays Ariel’s seagull friend and resident “human expert” Scuttle.

“This was already one of the shortest production spans for a show that we’ve had, and then the two snow days on top of that, so we’ve really had to catch up, especially with costuming,” he says. “But we’re excited for folks to see it, and see all of the great work everyone has been putting in.”

Tyson Driver as Scuttle. Photos by Tyler Francke.
Ray Moore as Ariel and Carter Ward as Flounder. Photos by Tyler Francke.

Amid the challenging workload and pressure of opening day, the production crew in particular has focused on mental health awareness and well-being for the students involved.

“From the beginning of this production, I told our directors that I wanted to focus on the mental health aspect of what we’re going through, because it’s a lot, and I think people don’t really realize it,” assistant stage manager Emerson Sager explains.

“That’s something that’s been really special for me is having the opportunity to foster the kind of community that can help and nurture each other with those types of things.”

Ray Moore as Ariel. Photos by Tyler Francke.
Joel Winningham as Grimsby and Davan Page as Eric. Photos by Tyler Francke.

Sullivan Mackintosh, director of The Little Mermaid and Canby High School’s drama teacher, said there are more than 50 students attached to this year’s production.

“Definitely larger than Sweeney Todd last year or We Will Rock You the year before,” Mackintosh says. “We definitely have a strong showing of students involved! Fifty-four students by my count. We’re really proud of the students’ work and hope that the whole community makes it to the show!”

Performances are scheduled for March 2, 3, 9 and 10 at 6 p.m., and March 4 and 11 at 2 p.m. at the Richard R. Brown Fine Arts Center at Canby High School. Doors open 30 minutes before the show begins.

Freshman Catherine Marquez. Photos by Tyler Francke.
Carter Ward as Flounder and Ray Moore as Ariel. Photos by Tyler Francke.

The play features Ray Moore as Ariel, Davan Page as Prince Eric, Joel Winningham as Grimsby, Carter Ward as Flounder, Tyson Driver as Scuttle, Owen Lewis as Triton, Alex Calderon as Sebastian, Sky Milano as Ursula, Aaron Francom as Chef Louie and Bailie Inskeep and Brianna Voss as the eely Flotsam and Jetsam.

Laney Wakefield, Nika Chernishov, Leia Parkki, Ksenna Dalrymple, Misha Marie Milano and Diana Minko bring Triton’s six other daughters to life.

Cadenza Billingslea, Jasper Carpenter, Logan DeShazer, Tyson Driver, Aaron Francom, Nicole Hoffert, Max Hopkins, Madi Mains-Ferrier, Catherine Marquez, Aubrey Netter, Leo Newell, Lois Ofstead and Olivia Weber form the ensemble.

Carter Ward as Flounder and Ray Moore as Ariel. Photos by Tyler Francke.
“The Little Mermaid” opens on Thursday, March 2, at Canby High School. Photos by Tyler Francke.

Kassy Garrett serves as stage manager, Luke Viter as production manager, India Stults as student tech director, Emerson Sager and Justin Talbot as assistant stage managers. Quinn Benjamin, Wyatt Inskeep, Sofia Joyner, Asher Pickthorn, Emma Silva and Luke Viter form the stage crew.

Hannah Healey serves as music director, Jared Jonas as tech director and Laurel Hennig as costume manager. Lighting design is by Jason Totten and sound design by M. Torres Garcia, scene design by Emma Silva, costume design by Erynn D’Alessandro and Toast Brown, and makeup design by Erynn D’Alessandro.

Tickets are $10 for general admission, $8 for students and younger children, and free with Canby High ASB card. Tickets are available at the door. The performance is about two hours, with one 15-minute intermission.

Hear more from the Canby High School Thespians on Episode 422 of the Now Hear This: Canby podcast, “Mermaid My Day”:

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