Preview: The Little Mermaid

While past drama productions have catered to a more mature audience, new DBHS drama director Jared Kaitz hopes that this year’s production based on the Disney film will reach a broader audience.

Diamond Bar High School students will soon be able to relive childhood memories as they are swept under the sea by the Drama Department’s spring musical, “The Little Mermaid.”

“We were trying to pick a show that would not only showcase our students the best but also showcase our program and sell tickets,” newly appointed drama director Jared Kaitz said.

With a plot nearly identical to the 1989 film of the same name, the musical follows the journey of Ariel, the mermaid princess. Ariel has lived a boring life under the sea until she saves the life of a shipwrecked Prince Eric and immediately falls in love. From there, she must make a major sacrifice to become human and pursue the love of her life.

Kaitz acknowledges that the productions from previous years have catered more to adult tastes, including “Les Miserables,” “Hamlet” and “In the Heights.” This year’s musical selection is an attempt to broaden their audiences.

The stage show, based on the movie, ran on  Broadway for 20 months and over 500 performances starting in 2012. The original source material is a Danish fairy tale, “Little Mermaid,” which was written by renowned writer, Hans Christian Andersen.

“We also wanted to reach out to the younger people in our school district and hope that they come to see the show because it is a show that is appropriate,” Kaitz said.

Hoping to change things up in his first production as the the theater director, Kaitz also plans to incorporate the work of different school departments.

“We’re just trying to include many different people on campus as well to showcase our other programs because maybe they don’t get as much time to show their work so now there is another opportunity for them,” Kaitz said.

Kaitz plans to bring in Robotics to provide a surprise element during the play while utilizing stage crew to help build the set. Ann Tran’s 3-D printing class will help create pieces of jewelry, while dance teacher Kari Simonson will help choreograph parts of the play. Drama also plans to have elementary students join in by singing at one of their shows, as they have done in the past.

The lead role of Ariel will alternate between freshman Allison Santogrossi and senior Katlyn Contreras. Meanwhile, the lead role for Eric will be Luke Tearling and Ursula will be Pilar Alcazar.  

“For me, I think the hardest thing was just learning to love Ariel and also I’m not so much a Disney fanatic as most of my cast. Some of the songs people knew by heart, while I had no idea,” Santogrossi said. “I had to listen to the songs, play the songs and actually look at the words.”

Both Contreras and Santogrossi said they hoped that the younger members of the  audience will gain inspiration from the play and be inspired to join drama in the future.

“I think that everyone in the show has been so perfectly casted. It took us a while to see, but once you see everyone performing their role and everyone just being able to relate to their role—I think Mr Kaitz made an amazing decision with casting and I think everyone is in a role that they really enjoy,” Santogrossi said.

The musical will be performed at the DBHS theater April 13-14 and April 19-21 at 7 p.m. An  additional performance will be given at 2 p.m on April 14 to showcase the children’s choir from local elementary schools.