Making a Musical During a Pandemic: The Little Mermaid Jr

Alexa Warmuth, Journalist

The last year has been a rollercoaster ride for seemingly everyone. From cancellations of large events to a major virus traveling around the atmosphere, no one knows what is going to happen next. However, the show must go on, even if masks need to be worn. Students from the SHS Theatre Department such as myself knew that the 2021 Spring Musical was not going to be the experience that they were used to. COVID restrictions have made live theatre extremely difficult, but many virtual tools have made it possible. Soon, The Little Mermaid Jr. was announced as the school’s musical, a fully streamed production that would be aired on April 23 & 24. I had done this show previously as someone that regularly does theatre, but I was still delighted to find out that there would be an opportunity for theatre to go on. The process moved very quickly with auditions occurring less than a week after the show was announced, but all of us actors were thrilled to get a chance to be on stage.

As a cast member of the musical, I had no clue what to expect as I walked into rehearsal. I discovered that we would be rehearsing and filming the show in different sections categorized by the scenes and characters. This made the rehearsal process very unusual, but not in a bad way. Other students and I found that being in the musical was not as stressful as it has been other years, and the cast members were given time to breathe in between recordings. I have a busy work and school schedule, but the musical was able to be a relief where I got to hang out with friends and do what I love. Rehearsals were very pleasant thanks to director Mr. Jeremy Jenkins, vocal director Ms. Vickie Eicher, and choreographer Mrs. Kelly Rose, who always had an optimistic attitude and made the process very enjoyable. 

After rehearsing a section of the show for a few weeks, it was time to record. Because of having to wear masks, the vocals for the musical numbers were recorded separately from the visual aspect of the show. It seemed very professional, as we each had to go in a room one by one to record ourselves singing over an instrumental track. I have never been in a recording studio, so it was neat to be able to sing into a fancy microphone and perform the vocals. Once we all recorded the song, we were able to hear it, and it sounded straight off of a cast recording. We were very impressed. Then it was time to film the acting and choreography. The costumes for The Little Mermaid were so fun, and each member of the cast looked like professional actors in their nautical attire. I loved my mermaid tail and getting to do my hair and makeup in ways that I normally don’t. After running our scenes a few times, it was time to film the final recording that would be used for the livestream. The stage lights were dimmed and we put on a show just as if we were giving a live performance. 

On April 23 at 7 PM, my family and I logged on to watch the musical. It felt like we were in a movie theatre as we patiently waited for the show to begin. The show started and we were all amazed. The scenes were edited together seamlessly and it sounded like a professional broadway show. I was pleasantly surprised with how well it came out, but I never had a doubt that we would be able to put on an awesome show. Seniors Delaney Cunningham and Sophie Alonge showed off their impressive vocals as Ariel and Ursula, respectively. Male stars Anthony Kennell and Isaac Siemer shined in their roles as Sebastian and Prince Eric as well. I have a personal bias towards the Mersisters, and I loved seeing our numbers after the show was complete and seeing that our hard work and choreography sessions worked off. The supporting cast was the glue that held the show together, and the ensemble brought it home in numbers like “Under the Sea.” 

Making a musical during COVID was definitely an enlightening experience. Mathias Hammer, a senior who played Chef Louis, explained that “the show is a great representation of the arts department at SHS and how dedicated we are to keeping music and theatre alive.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you to everyone who tuned in to The Little Mermaid Jr. this year, and to those that did not get the chance to stream, we hope to see you in-person next year!