Kaydence Gillespie as Ariel, the Little Mermaid, and her best friend in the play, Flounder, (Jemma Casem) take a break at rehearsal (Helen Caswell/Special to Salem Reporter)

A lively, tuneful evening is in store for Salem theatergoers when “The Little Mermaid” opens at North Salem High School next week.

Filled with song and laughter, “The Little Mermaid” is the story of the young, delightful Ariel, daughter of King Triton. She falls deeply for a human being, Prince Eric, who lives in the world above water. Longing to find love with him, Ariel makes a bargain with the evil sea witch Ursula, to trade her tail for human legs. But, hauntingly, Ariel soon learns the bargain is dark and dangerous.

“The script itself is the Disney stage musical version of the show, so it's been really fun getting to produce a live version of one of my favorite childhood movies,” said Alyssa Bond, North’s theater teacher and the show’s director. “But the most special thing is the students who are part of such an incredible production.”

One of them is Jemma Casem, a sophomore, who plays Flounder, the best friend of the title character. “My character likes to follow Ariel around pretty close,” she said. “Lots of effort and fun have gone into this show. People are going to really like it!”

The many irresistible songs of the Broadway musical are written by 8-time Academy Award winner Alan Menkin, and include “Under the Sea,” “Kiss the Girl,” and “Part of Your World.”

“I love to sing,” said junior Kaydence Gillespie, the production’s Ariel. “Everyone in the theater is phenomenal. You’ve always got to bring a little music into the world.”

"Everyone wants to be the villain," said Amoni Gregory, who plays Ursula, the evil sea witch (Helen Caswell/Special to Salem Reporter)

Junior Amoni Gregory agreed. She plays the villain, the evil Ursula, with a beautiful octopus skirt. “I love to play the bad guy because you get to show another side of yourself. Plus you get the cool songs!”

The production’s opening was delayed by the omicron surge; it was originally scheduled to open in January.

Covid has affected theater at North in general. Last year the group performed a few virtual and recorded productions which, said Bond, “were fun, but very different. This past summer we were able to produce a musical that performed outside on the front lawn of North.”

Precautions will be in place with “The Little Mermaid” as well, with the audience wearing masks and keeping distance.

“At North we are very proud of what we do and this year, while many of these students are brand new and learning skills for the first time, I am even more proud of them,” said Bond. “They have worked so hard and overcome so many challenges. No matter when we get to perform it, it will be a great time!”

If you go

"The Little Mermaid"

Based on the Hans Christian Anderson story and the Disney Broadway musical

North Salem High School Auditorium, 765 14th St. N.E.

Feb. 3, 4, 5, 11, 12 at 7 p.m., and Feb. 12 at 2 p.m.

Tickets $9 for adults, $6 for students. Available at nshstheater.com.

Writer Helen Caswell can be reached at [email protected]

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