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The Talent Company set to perform ‘The Little Mermaid Jr.’

The Talent Company is set to take audiences “under the sea” with its newest musical which premieres this weekend at the Albemarle Neighborhood Theater. It is the group’s first musical since last February’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

“The Little Mermaid Jr.” will be an abbreviated form of the Broadway hit based on the 1989 Disney animated classic. The cast consists of 26 kids ages 8 to 13 performing all of the key roles including Ariel, Prince Eric and the colorful sea witch Ursula.

The group, which has around 40 members ranging from elementary through high school-age kids, typically organizes the year’s first production for its older cast members — “The Glass Menagerie” ran in June and featured high school seniors and recent graduates — and a production primarily for its younger members in the fall, according to Laura Almond, TC’s treasurer and the production manager for “Little Mermaid.”

After last year’s “Beauty and the Beast,” the members voted to perform either “Shrek” or “The Little Mermaid” for this year’s musical. TC’s board of directors chose to go with the latter because “Shrek” would have required the group to purchase costumes from vendors across the country, many of whom are still not operating because of the pandemic.

“We try to meet what they want to do, but at the same time we have to make the financial and logistical decisions around it,” Almond said.

Unlike classical, more highbrow productions like “The Glass Menagerie,” which are popular but might have more of a niche audience, Disney productions tend to appeal to more demographics, with many people coming to watch as a way of reconnecting with their own childhood experiences with the beloved properties, Almond said.

“We don’t naturally gravitate towards Disney, but I think the kids do,” she said. “We like to keep everything kind of light and family-friendly.”

TC also likes to choose productions that provide key opportunities for its members to learn more about theater and what goes into putting on live performances and Disney’s many properties, Almond said, tend to fit that bill.

“Disney does a really good job of structuring their musicals out so that the kids can really learn all the aspects of theater from the terminology, to the structure, to the rehearsal time, to what it really takes,” she said.

Almond said the musical, which lasts about an hour, is largely faithful to both the Broadway production and the movie and she thinks the audience will enjoy it — especially the special effects that are planned, such as bubbles appearing during the performance of “Under the Sea” and colored fog when the sea witch Ursula casts a spell.

“We have some pretty cool special effects planned for the audience that gives them more of an experience where they’re going to really feel like they’re under the sea with us,” Almond said.

Auditions were held at the end of August and the actors have been rehearsing each weekend since. Almond said COVID has not really impacted the rehearsals.

The cast includes: Shelby Walker as Ariel; Lawson Smith as Prince Eric; Logan Huneycutt as Sebastian; JD Harward as King Triton; Rory Holt as Flounder; Bailey Brown as Ursula; Karmyn Huneycutt as Flotsam; Jayla Cole as Jetsam; Natalie Niederer as Scuttle; Kaleb Whitley as Grimsby; Riley Morton as Carlotta; and Amelia Barney as Chef Louis.

The play will run at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 15-16 and 22-23 and 3 p.m. Oct. 17 and 24. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 13 and younger and can be purchased online or at the door. Patrons will be required to wear masks.

The next TC production will be “Annie,” which is scheduled for February.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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