2016 Fall Musical - Disney's The Little Mermaid

For the 2016 Fall Musical WG Drama decided to go under the sea...

This is our first attempt at a real Disney show!
 After our previous successes with other fantasy shows we thought we were ready for the challenge.

of some select highlights

The Show was presented in the Jerry R. Knight Auditorium
Oct 20th, 21st, and 22nd - 2016

King Triton, the 6 Mersisters and the guards 
(photo: Cole Schnell)

Poster designed by Maggie Pool in Technical Theater Class as a Marketing/Publisher assignment.

Angela Truesdale's T-shirt design in tech class ended up becoming our program cover

 WG Drama - Just wanted to tell you all how amazing The Little Mermaid was tonight!  After "Part of Your World", my 8 year old Kayla turned to me with a big smile and said "This is REALLY GOOD!"  Both of my girls sat still for the entire show.  All of your hard work came together for an absolutely amazing production!  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you for a great night out with my girls! - Jennifer Tilling (WGHS Staff)

The Department held open auditions for the production


The Drama Department hosted the actor auditions in the Auditorium & Mrs. Poe held musician auditions in the band room.

                                             Flyers were posted all over the building

The Auditions to find the cast were rather chaotic. Over 65 kids trying for around 20 speaking parts and ensemble that play multiple parts and sing chorus. The energy in the room was fabulous, but several variables caused the auditions to get a bit out of hand at times (especially the second day).

Special shout out to Nicolaus Braun (played Scuttle) for stepping in to help out with the dance auditions last minute.

Nicolaus and Noah Braun with the "Bird Brains" backing them up  
(photo: Cole Schnell)

It had been 8 or so years since the WG Drama Department had done a large musical like this, and then add to that the fact that it was a big "Disney" musical and we start to see why we may have needed to do a bit more prep...but we pushed through and kept our eye on the ball.

We normally take three days for an audition of this size and each day we would weed out performers so by the end of the audition we're working with half the number of kids and only serious considerations. This year we had to keep it at only a two day audition due to a scheduling conflict in the auditorium. We didn't want to wait another whole week to audition so we just bit the bullet and rushed the process.

The FIRST day we heard everyone sing and the SECOND day we danced, moved a bit and tested some speaking roles. Our turnout for these auditions were great, everyone worked hard, and we wished we could have used everyone that came out. Decisions like this are never easy. We had several people on the casting table helping keep an eye on the talent. At the end of the day it always comes down to the best audition.

                    Program layout and design by Loren Kahrhoff (I.T.S. Troupe 191 Officer)

We could not have done this show without the hard work from our amazing Musical Director Mrs. Radick. 

She work tirelessly to get our show ready. She spent hours getting tracks recorded and she spend countless hours with us in rehearsal. She is amazing and she always makes us looks good in the end. 

The amount of time spent learning the music for this show was exhausting. She was with us the whole way. 

She also organized the sessions with the orchestra and Mrs. Poe's group of kids playing in the pit for the show.

We also had lots of kids to organize and many non-singers in the cast that needed help getting polished. There is always a ton of little changes with the music to make it run smooth and she is a pro. THANK YOU!!!

         Yusuf Randolph (Sebastian) leads the cast in a very energetic and colorful "Under the Sea" 

We always ask that the actors bring conflicts with them to the auditions, but even with the knowledge of everyone's conflicts it is really hard to schedule out the rehearsals.

Mrs. Romanowski (The Director) working on blocking a scene, Mr. Schaefer (Producer/Tech Director) talking about puppet work with Tyler Benbow (Flounder)

In rehearsal, the pirates work on the opening group number "Fathom's Below" 
Shout out to our fabulous Stage Managers - Sophia Gotto and Conner Hanneken. Also to our Asst Directors Rowan van Horn and Loren Kahrhoff for helping get scenes blocked and polished.

      The final look of that number in front of an audience, with Caleb at the helm of the ship
                                                                (photo: Cole Schnell)

    This was a very tough show to get everyone in the room. We had a lot of cast members with other obligations on campus. The cast was involved with our accapella groups, with various bands,  with choir, and with several different athletic teams. Some had voice and dance lessons off campus as well. On top of that when the weather starts to change and students don't get enough sleep they start getting sick and they miss rehearsal. \

Like all shows of this nature we have to be able to bend with the changes and try to work with everyone to keep it as smooth as we can. In the end it always comes together and the cast and crew make it happen. This show was no exception. They worked hard and everything really started to gel in the last couple of weeks.


Congratulations to Todd Schaefer, Sarah Romanowski, and the amazing cast and crew of The Little Mermaid.  This was a phenomenal show!  It is obvious that a ton of hard work went into the production.  The entire fine arts department was represented-- Debbie Genovese (artwork), the band and orchestra, choir and A-Men/A-Ladies, etc.  Even Hixson and elementary students were involved.  This is a show that many will remember forever. – Dr. Clark (WGHS Principal)

This is only part of the schedule...

The rehearsals were designed to get as much repetition as possible on the scenes and the music, and to get the students to memorize as fast as possible. There were a lot of lyrics, and lots of lines to get memorized and lots of staging to block and polish. 

Luckily the scenes are divided up nicely and we were able to divide up in our new space and have multiple groups working on stuff at once. The students did an amazing job getting their individual numbers polished in the rehearsal rooms and then Mrs. R would bring them onto the stage to see them in the space and on the set pieces.
      Working on choreography                  Under the Sea with the dancers and the ensemble
                                         (photo: Cole Schnell)

 Tea Gardner (Ariel) using the dance mirrors we set up 
for rehearsing the smaller dance numbers


The show was a very complex production. It required our department to reach out to many students, some alumni and several adults to get it all done. Without the dedication of so many people we could never have gotten it all done by deadline.


The various designs for this production were largely done by students, and we take pride in giving students as much opportunity to design when time allows. Some are completed in tech theater classes or from kids already working in the department. Sometimes we are lucky to get kids that just happen to swing by and offer the help. 

Marketing the Show

We try to create several posters, a t-shirt design, video teasers and a banner to hang in the Senior entrance. We also make paper banners to hang in the other hallways and the cafeteria. 

A couple of posters that the technical theater classes 
built in a couple of class periods on Microsoft Publisher


                     Ticket design by Kate Becker (I.T.S. Officer) ...and the chocolate sale flyer

The T-shirt design for the cast and crew to order 
was provided by Grey Ferber in Technical Theater

Banner Design

Banners were painted by several students, 
but we would like to give a special shout out to Sean Huss and Hope Johnson. 
Sean and Hope getting started with plans for the layout

The Senior Entrance looked amazing and was the most decorated lobby we've ever had!

Loren Kahrhoff designed the canvas banner and she spent many hours working on it. First she drew out the design and they she hand-painted and glittered the whole thing. 

The Senior display case was designed by Natalia Sauer with head shots of the cast

Mrs. Genovese and her art classes created a wonderful display 
of fish for the lobby that swam over our heads. 

Each one was so different and all of them were hand made. It was such a wonderful treat for the audience when they came into the space for the show. 
It definitely got them in the mood for the story. 
(They are now hung in the Preschool hallway)

The concept of the show was rather simple. We were either telling the story from under the sea or above it, and the stage had to take the audience from one location to the next without much effort or the momentum of the story could have suffered. 

With the set in the works (on stage), Jonah, Ethan and Nick hang one of the moving lights from the balcony rail.  

We were so fortunate to borrow these awesome instruments from Webster U through the collaboration of both our departments.


The stage was divided into two sections with a rock wall made from seven step units arranged in a line. We also attached three platforms to the back to complete the wall and to block the orchestra a bit. They were placed behind the wall and on the piano box. 


The Sisters (Ellie, Rachel, Meredith, Erin, Bridget, and Jessie) singing for Triton
(photo: Cole Schnell)
Special shout out to Webster U student Zara for building our mermaid skirts.

The PIT Orchestra

The stage design worked great for this show! It split the stage in half longways and allowed the musicians to be a part of the visual effect onstage. Our fabulous conductor/WGHS music teacher Mrs. Poe, was placed USC and conducted looking at the audience. For three nights she looked at the performers from behind. It was such a wonderful edition to the show to have live musicians like that backing up the singers and providing such a rich atmosphere. Definitely felt more like a real Disney musical.

THANK YOU MRS. POE for giving up your time to help encourage such a cool orchestra of WG Music Students to join our show. 

Leah and her daughter (who was also in the show!)

             We appreciate all you did for the Drama Department. 

                               Our wonderful pit orchestra

It was such a better experience for everyone involved to have you there, and the show was so much better because of what your students provided.

The Orchestra playing at one of the final rehearsals...just before the set got painted.

Guys are on the fly rail starting to fly in the back drops and the pirate ship.

Once we got into show week, everything started to get painted and the set started to come together.

The Rock wall and the two wagon units

We also wanted to create simple wagons to move on and off for specific smaller locations. The stage managers doubled as running crew and moved most of the wagons. Sometimes the cast would also help out. We made the rocks out of cardboard, masking tape, and paint. We made the coral out of wood, "Goodstuff" and spray paint.

Tea Gardner as Ariel in her secret grotto of treasures
(photo: Cole Schnell)

Triton (Jacob Noce) on his Throne
(photo: Cole Schnell)

Caleb Miofsky (as the prince) and Tea Gardner dance on the beach 
while Ursula (played by Aysha) looks on from the surf...
(photo: Cole Schnell)

The Technical Theater classes built the set in class. The show also had many parts that flew in from the heavens. This was a great opportunity to get the kids on the fly rail and to learn about the counter weight system. Things like various sea weeds (made out of ribbon, construction paper leaves, and feather boas), flags and banners.

         Jacob (Triton) and Yusuf (Sabastian) talking about the trouble Ariel has gotten into...
                                                                (photo: Cole Schnell)


We made a lot of the props in tech class and we also made a lot them after school and during the rehearsals. These were constructed from various crafting supplies, wood, card board and a ton of masking tape. After we got everything built we would paint it and add any detailing. Then all of the gold props were sprayed with glitter. 

Shout Out to Maggie Pool (Props Manager) for organizing all of the props each night with our stage managers. 

All of the pieces used for "Kiss the Girl"

This show had a lot of hand props and several of them had to be magical and light up on cue.

                               Triton's props and costume accessories 

The underwater brass band (Hannah Leatherbarrow, Ben Hardin and Audrey Alt) 
in "Under the Sea"

Various instruments and puppets designed and 
built by many different students for "Under the Sea"

Many of the cast members built and painted their own props for the show!
Special shout out to Mrs. R and the Drama I kids that helped cut out and assemble all of the felt animals the cast wore on their heads in "Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl"  

          Crab headbands                   Mrs. G.'s fish puppets           Flamingo hats

   various large fish and jelly fish that made and used to help scene transitions
Lots of students got to sew for this show, either on the new machines or by hand.

Shout out to Audrey Alt, Al Kellenberger and the many others who worked on the underwater animals...

The hand props built for "She's in Love" worked out great and gave the singers stuff to play with during the first half of the song...

The seaweed "feather" fans also helped add a Vegas charm to "She's in Love"

The magic contract that Ariel signs and gives up her voice

All of the Pirate props were made by the tech classes and students who stayed after school

The props we made for the Chef's big number in the second act...Aidan also made a lot of his own props for his big number..."Les Poissons"


We spent a lot of time designing, building and constructing the costumes and costume pieces for the show. 

 Shout out to Emma Lingle for stepping in to help organize the costumes for the show. She hadn't planned on doing the job, but she was so good on the last several shows that Mr. Schaefer pulled her in for one more. She tagged and organized the female costumes and made sure they were all ready to go by opening night. This is thankless work and she did great!!!

These were difficult for many reasons, but mostly we knew we had to make them close enough to the movie so the kids in the audience recognized the characters. It was fun to make the characters come to life and it allowed some students to help with costumes that had never worked on them before. Lots of hot glue burns!!!

Grey and Mr. Schaefer's shopping trip to Joanne fabrics for costumes 

          The Mersisters were made from scratch. We hired a Webster U costuming student to sew the skirts for us, and we decorated them after she constructed them.


We also made the Bird outfits from scratch, with lots of hot glue, ribbon, and felt...

Yusuf Randolph (Sebastian) made his own costume for the show with help from some friends

We decided to make Flounder (operated by Tyler Benbow) a puppet and it worked out great. It really added a Disney element to the stage picture that helped sell the story. We constructed the puppet out of a stuffed animal. It took us several attempts to get the puppet to work.
(photo: Cole Schnell)

Aysha Gray (Ursula) brought an amazing energy to the role. 
She was amazing and she sang her face off each and every night.
 The little kids were definitely scared!
(photo: Cole Schnell)

Her costume/set piece was designed and built by Grey Ferber, Mr. Schaefer, and several others. 

Flotsom (Alice Gillibrand) and Jetsom (Danny Chura) 
squirmed around the stage creeping on Ariel
(photo: Cole Schnell)


They also had LED lights that they wrapped around 
their arms to help sell the "electric" part of their characters

Tea Gardner (Ariel) made her own costume by using a skirt from stock and some additional fabric

 The Prince and Grimsby's costumes were both made out of different pieces of stock clothing and fabrics we had donated to the production. We turned an old 70's tux coat into a prince coat and matched Grimsby's coat to it. Lots of hot glue and ribbon...The hats and pirate shirts were from our department's costume stock. (photo: Cole Schnell)

We also pulled the pink dress and the maid outfit from stock 
and added some extra details to them to make them work for the show. 
Aidan Kurtz (the Chef) wowed the audience every night and had them in stitches.
He really looked the part in a costume we pulled mostly from our stock.
(photo: Cole Schnell)

The contest! (Audrey, Emma, Caroline, Joi, and Zia)
All costumes pulled from our stock

WG Drama,
I wanted to thank you both for a great afternoon of music, dancing and entertainment for my family with Little Mermaid.  The students did an amazing job and four year old Mariah Dempsey loved every scene.
Thank you to everyone.
Marsha Dempsey (WGHS Counseling Office)

We were so fortunate to have WG Drama alum Jonah Schnell take on the job on lighting designer.

He brought a lot of professionalism and lighting knowledge to the Production. We had a lot of lighting firsts with this show and Jonah taught the kids how to use new equipment all along the way.
Special thanks to the Webster University Theater Department for lending all kinds of equipment to the show.

         The spotlight was used along with deep saturated colors to help illuminate some of the
                 smaller area scenes and make them more dramatic and a bit more "cartoon".
                                                                     (photo: Cole Schnell)

Jonah also brought several moving lights, gobo spinners, projection, and LED lights. His crew was a hard working group that put in a lot of hours.

He added a bubble machine that shot bubbles from the ceiling down on the audience and the little kids couldn't get enough of it!

Yusuf as Sabastian during the dance break in "Under the Sea"...
...the dancers and ensemble working hard behind him on stage. 
(photo: Cole Schnell)

We added foot lights for the first time and it really added an interesting angle to the lights in certain scenes and musical numbers

                           Ursula, her magic cauldron, and the shell that holds Ariel's voice
                                                              (photo: Cole Schnell)

                                                                                       The Transformation! (photo: Cole Schnell)

                                                       THE LIGHT CREW

The Lighting Crew (Marlina, Ethan, Jack, Tristan, Jacob and Devon) were an amazing group of hard working students. They worked long hours in the theater and produced some great stage pictures in this show. 


Sam Toskin and our amazing sound crew worked really hard to make sure the show sounded great for the audience. They were responsible for the sound effects, the microphones and the music levels.

We rented microphones again and the sound team (Sam, Sam and Neo) had a major job each night getting the cast into their mics.

Backstage pics...

Running crew, make-up, and last minute stuff always sneaks up on us before the show starts. The students worked hard to get everything ready before the curtain opened

Reece, Julia and Liz helped with Concessions and sold food and drink 
before the show and during the intermission


We are so thankful for the audiences that came out to see the show and support our work. The WG Drama Department is so thrilled to have the opportunity to do the work that we do and without an audience that wouldn't be possible. There are so many people to thank and so many people who helped get this show to the stage.

We are also thankful to all of those students who helped and didn't get a lot of recognition...

               ...And they lived Happy Ever After

                                                                           The Kiss!

                                                         The cast at the end of the show 
                                                                 (photo: Cole Schnell)

All of the little ones who joined us onstage for the big group numbers took their bows!
(photo: Cole Schnell)

                           Tea and Elizabeth (Mr. Schaefer's Niece) after the last show on Sat
                                                                  (photo: Cole Schnell)



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