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Kernersville Little Theatre goes under the sea – and indoors – for ‘Little Mermaid’
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Kernersville Little Theatre goes under the sea – and indoors – for ‘Little Mermaid’

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Walt Disney Company first rolled out the animated “The Little Mermaid” movie in 1989, based on the Hans Christian Andersen story.

In 2007, Disney brought the tale to Broadway, with a 685-performance run. The tour and release to amateur productions put it firmly on the map across the country.

Kernersville Little Theatre will mount “The Little Mermaid” as its first indoor production — properly spaced in the audience area — since February 2020. Its upbeat story of a love crossing two different worlds is a family-friendly spectacle.

This version will star Kira Arrington as the young mermaid, Ariel, and Omar Sosa as Prince Eric.

The cast of “The Little Mermaid” also includes Julianna Byerly, Archie Collins, Taylor Dowell, Aliya Graves, Charity Hampton, Grace Hampton, Dakarai Ince, Paiten Iselin, Trevor Ketterling, Dane Maggard, Mariah Morales, Jessica Perry, Elyse Rodriguez, Stephen Shane, Jessie Stewart, Gary Stirewalt, Graeme Mitchell Taylor and Will Wright.

Performing other roles are Cameron Alison, Denise Bias, Kelsey Cheney, Kylie Eaton, Jennifer Graves, Mark Graves, Brianna Griffin, Alana Haselsberger, Ella Lawrence, Layne Maggard, Rosalie Mizner, Owen Rodriguez, Rebecca Stanifer, Beth Strader, Laura Strader, Karis Tuck, Olivia Trauth and Sydney Williams.

Veteran director Katie Jo Icenhower is directing the large cast for KLT, with Rick Hendricks (music director) and Eva Schramm (stage manager).

The past year or so has certainly been a slowdown for Icenhower. “I was fortunate to direct two musicals during the pandemic. Of course, the precautions made it challenging for the actors and audience. So now, directing ‘The Little Mermaid’ with fewer restrictions is starting to feel like old times.”

Staging a Disney classic can challenge smaller theater companies, though, Icenhower noted.

“I always feel that we will be compared to the animated version or the one on Broadway,” she said. “You can’t compete with a budget like theirs. Fortunately, it’s the story that is so compelling. But still, you want crab claws and fins. Thanks to theaters around the area such as the Yadkin Arts Council, Lewisville Community Theatre, and Wesleyan Christian Academy, we have some wonderful costumes.”

Although there are a number of memorable moments in the show, Icenhower has some particularly favorite portions.

“The voices in this production are amazing. The solos, duets and quartets are giving me goose bumps in rehearsal,” she said. “But what really makes me smile is when the entire cast is onstage giving it their all, selling a number, and having a great time. That’s what happens in the song ‘Under the Sea.’”

Kira Arrington, playing Ariel, has identified her own personal favorites.

“There are two absolutely magical moments in the show that I can’t wait for the audience to be a part of,” Arrington said. “A quartet titled ‘If Only’ involves four of the main characters singing about each of their internal struggles to help and achieve different goals. The vocals in the song alone are worth the price of the admission, not to mention the stunning lyrics, acting and placement of the whole song.”

She also felt that “another one of the greatest moments, thus far, is in the finale. The cast sings all together in incredible harmonies,” she said. “The culmination of the show’s action comes together in such a stunning way that I know the audience will be tearing up and clapping and cheering for all the good guys.”

“There’s been a lot of pent-up demand to see live theater,” Icenhower added. “But there has also been a lot of pent-up demand for actors to perform onstage. We had a large turnout at auditions that included some of the best actors, singers and dancers in the Triad. They are in the show, and I think the audience will be just as fortunate to see them as I am to work with them.”

Arrington is intrigued by building a character for a mythical being.

“Even though Ariel is a young teenager, she has many complex moments of second-thought, heartache, fear and joy, all in a short amount of time, that most adults have experienced in real life in very similar situations,” she said.

“One of the most fun, but challenging, parts of playing a mermaid is giving the underwater illusion with body language and movements,” Arrington added. “I guess you’ll have to come see the show to see exactly what I’m talking about.”

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