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HomeArt"The Little Mermaid Jr." Makes a Splash at Live Oak Theatre

“The Little Mermaid Jr.” Makes a Splash at Live Oak Theatre

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The legend of “The Little Mermaid” claims its origins in the regal form of Hans Christian Andersen’s short story of the same title, included in a collection of fairy tales initially published in 1837. Since that time, this classic tale of a young mermaid who considers surrendering her life at sea—and her ethereal voice—in exchange for a life spent onshore with a handsome prince has known many incarnations, in the form of a 1989 animated feature, a 2023 live-action motion picture, an ongoing underwater live show performed here in Hernando County’s Weeki Wachee Springs, and a Broadway adaptation that debuted on stage in 2008.

Now, seats are on sale for Live Oak Theatre’s final season production, Disney’s “The Little Mermaid Jr.,” a Live Oak Youth Theatre production, which opens on May 5 and runs through May 19. Live Oak Theatre Company (LOT) is a not-for-profit 501(C)(3) repertory company of local artists. The Live Oak Theatre Company enriches families, individuals, and the community by providing positive artistic experiences in the performing arts, including excellent, affordable, and edifying family-friendly entertainment, performances, and educational opportunities for theater patrons and participants of all ages.

The show will be performed at the Carol and Frank Morsani Center for the Arts, 21030 Cortez Boulevard, Brooksville, Florida 34601. The Friday and Saturday evening shows are at 7:30 p.m.; the Saturday and Sunday matinees are at 2:30 p.m. Doors open approximately 30 minutes before showtime.
Advanced adult seats are $20; children 13 and under are $10 (with the purchase of an adult reservation). Advanced prices are available up to approximately 24 hours before each performance. Twenty-four hours prior to showtime, ticket prices increase by $5 for adults and children.
“The Little Mermaid Jr.” cast is divided into sea and land casts. Ariel will be played by Eleana Lipidarov and Evelyn Mitten; Ursula will be played by Abigail DePriest and Alannah Allocco; Nehemiah Torres and Rhodes Walkup will play Flounder; Nick Retinis will play Sebastian; and Leif Rasmussen and Titus Richards will play Prince Eric.

Live Oak spokesman Vince Vanni feels that “The Little Mermaid Jr.” is the ideal production for young actors, who, in this case, seek their extensive theatrical education from the seasoned dramatic professionals at The Live Oak Conservatory.

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“It allows for a perfect adaptation of the various skills taught in the conservatory… Children ages 8 to 18 will sing in harmony while dancing and behaving in a wide range of characters,” said Vanni. “Remember, there is no lip-syncing. Everything is live. In addition, the children need to learn to adopt the characters of various sea creatures.”

Vanni believes that the creative team behind “The Little Mermaid Jr.” is doing a masterful job of coordinating this nuanced, large-scale production.

“Lexi Rossiter, Lenia Staley, and Reese Monroe (our director/choreographer team) are managing the largest cast we have ever amassed… approximately 70 students (8-18). They have handled it by dividing the various numbers between them under Lexi’s leadership,” he said. “The real challenge is dividing the different numbers by cast members. You never see the entire cast on stage simultaneously until the curtain call. Students of varying ages not only learn to incorporate what they learn at the conservatory but also learn to become sea creatures. They also learn about self-discipline. It would be impossible to accomplish this without the students understanding what’s required.”

According to Vanni, the legend of “The Little Mermaid” enjoys a vibrant history at Live Oak. “Most cast members are familiar with all the characters. In fact, our instructors were involved in the mainstage production of ‘The Little Mermaid’ several years ago,” he said. “We are very fortunate that our principal players have been with us for so many years. It allows us to teach the many new students the basics, and our experienced students set the example for the newbies.”

Vanni hopes that when they see “The Little Mermaid Jr.,” they will experience and enjoy the true magic of a youth theatre production. “We hope that the audience sees the enjoyment in the performances of the various skill levels,” he said. “People always wonder how we find so much talent in our town. But, It’s not just talent; It’s skill. Talent is what the students bring to the conservatory. Skill is what they take away with them. We hope that the audience sees this in the performance.”

“MOST IMPORTANT… I personally hope that the audience realizes the leadership skills that have been imparted to all involved,” he continued. “The directors/choreographers of this show, as well as the previous show and the first show of the next season, have been developed over the years. Their leadership skills are what make me the most proud!”

To reserve seating, visit https://liveoaktheatre.square.site/, email [email protected], or call 352-593-0027.

Follow Live Oak Theatre on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LiveOakTheatre.
For more information about the Live Oak Theatre Company, including sponsorship and audition opportunities, call 352-593-0027, email [email protected], or go to www.LiveOakTheatre.org. Visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LiveOakTheatre.

Also at Live Oak, Improv Night will be celebrated Friday, April 26, at 7:30 p.m. at 21030 Cortez Boulevard, Brooksville.

Organizers promise a night of family-friendly unpredictability, laughter, and joy as Live Oak Conservatory’s Improv Troupe presents an original show featuring games and skits, with all of the actors’ choices inspired by the audience.

Improv, short for improvisation, indicates a spontaneous performance without specific or scripted preparation. Tickets are $10 when purchased in advance; 24 hours before the show, they will increase to $15. Concessions will be available for purchase before the show and during intermission. Get tickets at https://liveoaktheatre.square.site/

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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