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Ike students bring 'Little Mermaid' from under the sea and onto the stage

Nov. 26, 2012

New Berlin - Eisenhower Middle School has taken on an ambitious project: bringing the aquatic story of the Little Mermaid to a dry stage.

"Little Mermaid Junior," which will create undersea life right without water, will be presented at Eisenhower Middle/High School, 4333 S. Sunny Slope Road, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Creating that undersea world on dry land took a bit of theater magic, co-director Natalie Baertschy said.

"Lights that create bubbles, water that appears to surround the stage from all directions, sound effects to create a storm are examples of how we create another world," Baertschy said.

And transforming young humans into jellyfish, crabs and mermaids presented daunting costume challenges not faced by other productions, she acknowledged.

"The majority of the costumes were created specifically for this production," she said. "Many of the costumes were created from scratch by high school students and parent volunteers."

But the directors think the results are well worth the extraordinary effort.

Baertschy said Ariel, the heroine, will appeal to the students.

"She is the perfect mix of a teenage rebel and a naïve little girl," she said.

In the story, Ariel is torn between love for her father and her dream of becoming human in the world above. The evil Ursula exploits that dream in an effort to take Ariel's soul. The conflict involves her father, a handsome prince and a final battle between Ariel and Ursula.

The directors waited three years for the production to be released by Musical Theater International.

"When the rights became available in May, we jumped at the opportunity to perform this," Baertschy said, noting that Eisenhower is one of the first schools to get the rights.

The stage production came from the animated Disney movie that itself is based the Hans Christian Anderson story. This production continues to evolve - London's West End Theater is also working on a stage production of "The Little Mermaid," Baertschy said.

Admission will be $7 general or $5 for students and seniors.

- Jane Ford-Stewart

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