ESTEVAN — The Estevan Comprehensive School is bringing a new musical to the community this January.
ECS teachers Kyle Whitehead, Jillian Connely and Tamara Franklin are the three directors and are currently working with high school students, as well as some Grade 7-8s from other Estevan schools, to put together The Little Mermaid, set to run from Jan. 18-21 with three evening shows and a matinee on the last day.
"We are thrilled to bring back a large production to the school community," the school said on its social media.
The traditional production was put on pause by the pandemic, and Whitehead said the kids have been asking about the return of the musicals for a while now. The time finally came to bring it back.
"Students always ask. If it was their choice, they'd do three shows a year," Whitehead said with a laugh. "But as staff, we said, it's the time, we need to bring it back, we need to do something to keep these kids engaged and get them more engaged in all of our arts department programs."
The decision was made in August and in the fall, the staff started working on it.
"We wanted to find something family-friendly, and we wanted to extend slightly outside of ECS. So, we opened it up to all Grade 7 to 12 students in the area. And we thought that the Disney shows always tend to draw a crowd," Whitehead explained.
About 40-50 students came for auditions and 28 were cast to become a part of the show, both on stage and behind the scenes, with an even mix of all ages involved.
"We had lots that wanted to be on stage, but we also had a very solid group of students that were wanting to be behind the scenes: stagehands, audio, visual, texts," Whitehead said.
"Students are excited, and their enthusiasm is huge. They're all very excited to get started," Connely added.
The school has rented the official Broadway script and all of the materials from Music Theatre International out of New York, as that's the official company that does the Disney shows.
"Every show we've done, we've rented the rights and the materials from one of the major licensing companies, whether it be Music Theatre International or Rodgers and Hammerstein. There are a few different companies out there that lease the rights, so we pay rental fees and royalties," Whitehead noted.
Materials have arrived mid-October and the cast is beginning with rehearsals and behind-the-scenes work.
"It's a work in progress right now because we are getting ourselves right back into the groove. It's been a few years," Connely said.
The rehearsals will go four to five days a week, Whitehead said, all the way up until the premiere. They have choreographer Maria Walter on board, who is a local dance teacher, and Megan Casemore is one of their vocal coaches.
They are also hoping to have a live orchestra accompanying the musical, which is currently being organized. Whitehead also noted that if anyone is interested in sponsoring the project and helping out, it would be greatly appreciated.
"They can call up to the school and talk to any one of the three directors," Whitehead said.
Tickets for the show will go on sale in the beginning of December, with more details coming up closer to the date. Updates will be posted on the Estevan Comprehensive School's social media pages.
Connely noted they hope the interest in the production will extend to regular drama classes next term and later on.
"We're hoping for some higher enrolment numbers in the drama program. So we have a 1020-30 class next term that I'm teaching, and we're hoping to get separate classes for next year. So we have a big challenge, but I think the students are up for it," Connely said.