The Little Mermaid

30 November 2023

The Little Mermaid Middle School production, 2023.


There was unprecedented demand for the Middle School production of The Little Mermaid, which sold out five weeks before the show opened. The anticipation was well-founded, with the performers enjoying a lengthy standing ovation and wildly enthusiastic cheering from the audience at the end of the show’s epic first night.

The Little Mermaid is a much-loved tale, first published by Hans Christian Andersen in 1837, and in more recent times, reshaped by Disney as both a film and stage show. Director, Ginnie Thorner, says it is a story of family, love and finding the courage to follow your dreams, stand up for what you believe in, and support others as they follow their calling. “For our team, courage was taking very young musicians and believing they could play this challenging music, along with students stepping into roles backstage and on the stage – some of whom had never been involved in a show before.”

Gym 1 was transformed into a magical underwater wonderland, with a vivid set and stunning, colourful costumes created by Costume Designer, Sylvia Campbell, creating a treat for the senses. The fun, fast-paced, and often challenging choreography created by Hana Pearce (OC 2019) brought the infectious musical numbers to life.

Along with incredible performances from the young cast of Years 9–10 students, the live music played by The Hot Crustacean Band, made up of students from Years 6–12 was a highlight. Musical Director, Duncan Ferguson, says this was the largest and youngest student orchestra he has conducted during his 25 shows at St Andrew’s. “I cannot overstate what a challenge this show was for these young musicians and the immense amount of work they put in to being able to learn the complex score and perform it so well. It has been a privilege working with such talented, dedicated, and hardworking young musicians.”

Ginnie says staging The Little Mermaid was a mammoth task for many other reasons. “The show had so many moving parts, costumes that had to be designed and created from scratch, rehearsal spaces for dance and acting that were nothing like the final space we worked in, and of course, the show taking place in Gym 1. The creative team, volunteers, and parent helpers were unwavering in their dedication to go above and beyond for the students to ensure what the audiences saw onstage exemplified both creativity and excellence.”

The result of all the hard work was a sell-out run of fabulous shows which immersed audiences in the magical, mesmerising world of Disney.

Young performers excel

The Little Mermaid Middle School production, 2023.The story of The Little Mermaid follows the classic Disney formula of star-crossed love. Ariel, a spirited red-haired mermaid who is the daughter of King Triton, and Eric, a handsome sea-faring prince, fall for each other. However, their path to true love is never going to run smoothly, given they are from different worlds, and have Ariel’s scheming sea witch aunt, Ursula to contend with.

The entire cast, including the Ensemble, and six students from the Preparatory School, gave their all and did a wonderful job bringing the show to life. The musical numbers, including fan favourites, Part of Your World, Under the Sea, Kiss the Girl, and Poor Unfortunate Souls, had the audiences’ toes tapping.

Eden Taylor (Year 9) was exceptional as Ariel. The maturity and strength of her voice, combined with her incredible stage presence and portrayal of Ariel’s bravery and vulnerability, meant her performance could have graced any professional stage.

Scarlett Ryan (Year 10) shone as the scheming sorceress, Ursula, who convinced Ariel to trade her beautiful voice for a set of legs so she could be with Prince Eric above the sea. Scarlett did a wonderful job playing the devilish character and sang beautifully. She was well supported by her slick electric eel sidekicks, Flotsam (Miran Yamada – Year 10) and Jetsam (Piper Stone – Year 9) who had great voices and inhabited their characters with clever fluid movements.

As Prince Eric, Cooper Fleming (Year 10) was perfectly cast. He had a lovely mellow singing voice and was totally believable in his character’s quest for true love and a desire to follow his own path. Charlie Bisphan (Year 10) also did a great job as Eric’s guardian, Grimsby.

Some of the show’s quirkier sea creature characters stood out – particularly Edward Keenan (Year 9) who was brilliant as the crab, Sebastian, tasked with the impossible job of looking after Ariel; George Ranken (Year 9) who was delightful as Ariel’s lovelorn friend, Flounder; and Scarlett Oulsnam (Year 9) who was hilarious as the scene-stealing seagull, Scuttle. The over-the-top slapstick number Les Poissons, featuring a wonderful Sylvia James (Year 10) as murderous Chef Louis was another highlight.

Jinyang Zhang (Year 10) had a commanding presence and impressive singing voice as the stern but good King Triton. Alyssa Huang (Year 9), Isla Kempthorne (Year 10), RuoLin (Lauren) Li (Year 9), Zuzu Connelly (Year 9), Isabella Cutforth (Year 9) and Emily Watt (Year 10) displayed great comic timing as Ariel’s six sisters, and harmonised beautifully in their song and dance numbers.

With the evil villain finally vanquished and true love prevailing, audiences were treated to the perfect fairytale ending to an incredible show.

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