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Hocking County Children’s Chorus Brings “Little Mermaid” to Life

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Looking for something entertaining to do this weekend? You will not want to miss the performance of The Little Mermaid, presented by the members of the Hocking County Children’s Chorus at 7 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Logan-Hocking Middle School Theater.

Folks with young children or grandchildren may be familiar with The Little Mermaid story, but the members of the Children’s Chorus do an outstanding job of bringing the colorful characters to life during the musical production.

The play opens with Prince Eric, portrayed by Jamison Gentzel, hearing a mysterious and somewhat yearning voice calling him while he is sailing the open sea. At the same time far beneath the sea, crab Sebastian, played by Owen Brandt, is busy preparing a concert for King Triton that will feature the king’s youngest daughter, Ariel. Drake Turner plays the role of King Triton and Ariel is portrayed by Alexandra Neville.

Ariel appears not to be concerned about making her musical debut in the concert – instead she swims to the water’s surface with her best friend, Flounder, played by Naia Salas Ellinger, to discover the treasures that lurk in the world above the ocean’s surface. The underwater friends learn about the new world from the seagull, Scuttle, portrayed by Abbie Rogers.

While Ariel and Flounder are getting a taste of what life is like above the water’s surface – deep within her lair, the sea witch Ursula and her two lackey eels, Flotsam and Jetsam, bemoan their exile from the underwater kingdom and plot to regain power from King Triton using Ariel as bait. Lauren Begley plays the role of Ursula to perfection and will certainly capture the attention of the audience, while the eels are portrayed by Abigail Short and Brianna Saving.

In the meantime, King Triton scolds Ariel for going to the surface and appoints Sebastian, the crab, as her chaperone. Ariel is dismayed and retreats to her grotto dreaming of living on land rather than under the sea. In the midst of the revelry, Ariel pursues a passing ship which is struck by lightning and Prince Eric is thrown overboard. Ariel manages to save the Prince from drowning and takes him directly to shore before she once again disappears into the waves.

When the King learns that Ariel made contact with a human he is very angry and destroys her grotto — so she finds herself homeless and distressed. The eels find Ariel and convince her to accompany them to the sea witch’s lair. Ursula offers to change Ariel into a human being in exchange for her wonderful voice. However, Prince Eric must kiss Ariel within three days or she will turn back into a mermaid and will become Ursula’s slave forever. Overcome by her dreams of the world above, a distraught Ariel agrees to the bargain with the sea witch.

What happens next? You will have to attend the musical presentation to see what transpires with Ariel and her underwater friends and her desire to live above the water’s surface.

Alexandra Neville is excited that she was selected to play the role of the beautiful mermaid. This is quite an accomplishment considering that this is her first year as a member of the Children’s Chorus. The fifth grade student said that she was attracted to the role because she likes the music. “I practiced for the role for two days before the auditions and I could recite the lines without looking at the book that follows the script – I think that is why I got one of the lead parts. I’m excited about the play – it is fun!” she said.

Judie Henniger, founder and director of the Hocking County Children’s Chorus is directing her final production for the Children’s Chorus because she is retiring after 35 years of providing vocal music and drama instruction to Hocking County youth.

Henniger reflected on the final production of her illustrious career. “It is bittersweet – I am looking forward to fully retiring but at the same time I know that I will miss the kids and the music. But it will be nice knowing that I do not have to commit myself to meetings, practices and rehearsals on Monday evenings from now on,” she admitted.

Henniger praised the HCCC members for their talents and efforts during the weeks of rehearsals that are needed before the musical is performed before the audience. “Every year it seems that each group of kids gets better and better. This has to be the sweetest group of kids that I have ever had and some of them have impressive musical talents and acting skills as well. It has been indeed a pleasure to work with hundreds of youth and directors throughout the years,” she said.

Henniger also commended Darlene Barrett for serving as the co-director of the Children’s Chorus for the past few years. “Darlene is a talented musician who really gets involved with the production of the spring musical. Not only does she help direct the play, she also helps prepare the scenery and props for the production. She is a great asset to the Children’s Chorus and I appreciate her dedicated efforts as well,” Henniger said.

The longtime vocal music teacher also recognized the Logan High School music and drama students who have been instrumental in assisting with the musical production by offering lighting and sound services throughout the production. The high school students are guided in their efforts by Shelly Riggs, LHS drama and theater instructor.

“It takes a lot of people with expertise in a variety of fields to stage a musical production of this type. I certainly appreciate everyone’s assistance including the parents of the chorus members who attend rehearsals where they serve as makeup artists and costume designers too. It takes a lot of work on everyone’s part, but by the time the curtain goes up this weekend it will all be worth it and I promise that the audience will not be disappointed,” Henniger concluded.