The Anoka Children’s Theatre will perform the musical “The Little Mermaid Jr.” March 29-31 at Anoka Middle School for the Arts. The musical features: front row, Matehya Grecula (Merfolk), Olivia Galvin (Mersister) and Natalie Ingvaldson (Mersister); middle row, Shaine Kilyun (Ariel), Finn Dillinger (Prince Eric) and Cayla Nybakken (Flounder); back row, Audrey Thoburn (Scuttle), Finn Hanson (King Triton) and Amber Kuhn (Ursula).Photo submitted

The Anoka Children’s Theatre will go under the sea March 29-31 with the company’s adaptation of “The Little Mermaid Jr.”

“The Little Mermaid Jr.” is a shortened version of the 1989 film by the same name with music and lyrics by Alan Menken, Glenn Slater and Howard Ashman.

Set under and above the high seas, “The Little Mermaid Jr.” tells the story of Ariel (Shaine Kilyun), an adventurous young mermaid who, along with her friend Flounder (Cayla Nybakken), loves disobeying the rules and following her heart.

Ariel’s fascination with the human world often leads her to the sea surface, a zone that’s designated as “off-limits” by her father Triton (Finn Hanson), the sea king.

One day while sneaking to the surface, Ariel witnesses a shipwreck and rescues Prince Eric (Finn Dillinger), with whom she becomes instantly smitten. Furious at Triton’s inability to understand her love for the prince, Ariel runs away and strikes a deal with Ursula (Amber Kuhn), Triton’s evil witch of a sister, to experience the life she dreams of on land.

“‘The Little Mermaid’ is such a sweet and delightful story,” said Director LeAnn Snidarich. “The kids have put so much of their energy into this musical, and they will do a wonderful telling of this amazing story and bringing it to life.”

“The Little Mermaid” stars 25 other students in fourth through eighth grade who hail from a variety of schools across Anoka County. All the students are part of the after-school Anoka Children’s Theatre program. The program gives children an opportunity to participate in a theatrical experience where they learn, rehearse and perform once a year in front of a live audience.

“The Anoka Children’s Theatre is unlike any theater program,” said Snidarich. “We accept students into the program without knowing if they can act, sing or dance and then we cast them in productions afterwards ... We think that every child deserves a chance to act.”

Snidarich said the students who participate in Anoka Children’s Theatre learn how to present themselves and develop teamwork and it helps build their confidence.

“I love how welcoming this theater is and you get to learn so much about performing,” said Fallon Dillinger (Seahorse), a fifth-grader at Andover Elementary.

The Anoka Children’s Theatre also did “The Little Mermaid” five years ago.

“It was a very popular show, and the kids loved it,” Snidarich said. “With the re-release of ‘The Little Mermaid Jr.’ we thought it would be a great time to bring it back.”

Snidarich said the musical is an exciting challenge because there are constant music and scene changes in the hour-and-15-minute show.

“There are some challenges, but the kids are doing an amazing job taking on the added responsibilities,” she said. “There are so many different elements and changing parts to this show that no one is ever bored, and there is always something exciting happening.”

The crew for “The Little Mermaid Jr.” includes nine Anoka Children’s Theatre alumni and 10 adults. Snidarich is directing the performance along with music director Elaine Johnson and choreography director Judy Trempe.

Amber Kuhn (Ursula), from Ham Lake, said the crew has done an amazing job creating an under the sea theme through detailed sets and costumes. Kuhn said her Ursula costume grows as her character uses magic to grow bigger.

“I love being evil and the costume is amazing,” she said. “Everyone put so much work into this musical, and it’s incredible to see how everything comes together in the end.”

“This show is so magical, and the story really comes to life,” said Shaine Kilyun, an eighth-grader at Jackson Middle School in Champlin.

To learn more about “The Little Mermaid,” visit bit.Ly/2TTY6VQ.

If you go:

What: Anoka Children’s Theatre presents “The Little Mermaid Jr.”

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 29, and Saturday, March 30; 2 p.m. Sunday, March 31

Where: Anoka Middle School for the Arts, 1523 South Fifth Ave., Anoka

Tickets: $10 for adults, $5 for seniors and children


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