‘The Little Mermaid’ opens tonight at Seymour High School

Published in 1837, “The Little Mermaid” is one of Danish author Hans Christian Andersen’s most beloved fairy tales.

The story is about a teenage mermaid princess named Ariel, who becomes fascinated with life on land and falls for a human prince, Eric. Her controlling father, King Triton, forbids it, but Ariel is determined to be with her new love and is willing to give up her life in the sea and immortality in exchange for a human soul.

It became popular in 1989 when Disney released an animated movie loosely based on the story.

“The Little Mermaid” was adapted into a stage musical in 2007, and a live musical presentation of the film aired on television in 2019.

Tonight, it opens on the Earl D. Prout Auditorium stage at Seymour High School as this school year’s musical. Shows are set for 7 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door and $5 for the matinee.

Liza Stuckwisch plays the lead role of Ariel, while Leonel Jimenez portrays Eric, Carter Wiesman is King Triton and Carly Kaiser is Ursula.

Kaiser, a senior, said she initially was a little apprehensive about being cast as Ursula.

“In order to play Ursula, you need to have a strong voice and have the ability to really embrace her personality,” she said. “I watched several Broadway and school productions to bring my vision of Ursula to life. I think the audience will be a little surprised and enjoy how I developed Ursula for the show.”

Ursula is the sister of King Triton who has been banished by him from Atlantica. She tricks Ariel into trading her voice for a chance to be with Prince Eric on land.

“Ursula is the exact opposite of my personality,” Kaiser said. “She is a different character, and a lot of people would not see me in a role like Ursula. Playing Ursula is a way for people to see a side of me they wouldn’t usually see.”

In the show, a lot of background information about Ursula and her past with Triton is given so the audience understands why she is the way she is, Kaiser said.

“I also like that the musical is not just about one character but showcases many,” she said. “I’m excited because it’s a Disney show the public knows, and little kids will be drawn to it. I am looking forward to showcase my talents this year. It has been a lot of fun.”

Fellow senior Grace Lewis plays the role of Flounder, who she describes as an innocent best friend that has a bit of a school crush on Ariel.

“He is a very energetic character, so it is really exciting for me to try and come up with different actions that Flounder might add to a scene,” Lewis said. “Just about every day and especially recently in tech rehearsals, I have gotten the chance to create new things for Flounder to add to scenes and songs that elevate his characterization and in general make the audience feel like they are watching the real Flounder on screen.”

She said she was drawn to Flounder because he is “a very dopey, upbeat and lighthearted character.”

“To me, Flounder gets to have some of the most fun by being in some of the best scenes and songs, like ‘Under the Sea,’ ‘Kiss the Girl’ and ‘She’s in Love,’” Lewis said. “Flounder has a very sweet temperament and is a different character than I previously have played, which makes him so much fun to replicate and predict how he might act.”

Lewis said Ariel has been her favorite princess since she was old enough to watch Disney movies. She has picture frames of her sobbing when meeting Ariel at Disney World, and she also has a stuffed Flounder and used to have Sebastian toys.

“When my sisters were younger, they had several stages where they loved many different movies, but I have always only loved ‘The Little Mermaid,’” she said. “I love swimming, and I think that the two are complements to each other, and I love the stories about merpeople. I love how Ariel collects items from the people on the land and how even though she doesn’t know what they are, she treasures them.”

Lewis said she has been dreaming of doing this musical since she was in middle school, so she’s glad Director Kyle Karum chose to bring it to the stage this year.

“I want every night for the audience to feel connected to the characters,” she said. “This is one of the exciting parts for me because there are many times that my character has the ability to change up his actions and try to get a few more laughs in. I hope that everyone gets to see how we have put a lot of time and effort into the musical so that they can come and enjoy a night of childlike wonderment, and of course, laughter.”

Senior Joshua Rennekamp said being a comedic relief in the musical drew him toward playing the role of Chef Louis.

“My character is the palace chef that loves to cook seafood,” he said. “He wants to catch that pesky crab (Sebastian) in his kitchen. I like how it is a short and sweet role but is very funny.”

He said he’s looking forward to showing off how well all of the cast and behind-the-scenes crew work together.

“I like how the storyline is smooth and there is never a dull moment through the musical,” Rennekamp said.

Junior Jonas Hildreth is the student tech director and said he was drawn to that role because he enjoys creatively working on projects and always has liked working backstage on theater-related projects.

He said the set-building crew worked four days each week after school on the construction of the set.

“A lot of effort and care has gone into the musical, and I’m sure it will be a great show,” Hildreth said. “I am looking forward to the enjoyment the show brings to people. I like how each character has their own evolution as the story goes on and they still all tie together.”

If you go 

What: Seymour High School’s production of “The Little Mermaid”

When: 7 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Where: Earl D. Prout Auditorium at SHS, 1350 W. Second St., Seymour

Cost: $10 in advance, $12 at the door, $5 for the matinee (buy online at showtix4u.com/event-details/68143)

Director, producer and co-music director: Kyle Karum

Pit orchestra conductor and co-music director: Kevin Cottrill

Accompanist and producer: Karla Shutters

Assistant director: Katie Persak

Principal cast: Liza Stuckwisch, Carly Kaiser, Dametreous Collins, Carter Wiesman, Leonel Jimenez, Grace Lewis, Ethan Crane, Joshua Rennekamp, Katya Cox, Isabel Maschino, Carmyn Wilson, Rayna Murphy, Gabriella Parisi

Plot-essential characters: Liv Hendrix, Skylar Day, Aleia Findley, Kaelin Grube, Kinsley Folsom, Haley Smith