Baker theater students to take audiences ‘under the sea’

Published 12:00 pm Friday, February 10, 2023

In 1989, when Disney released “The Little Mermaid,” it became such a hit that it would be selected many years later for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

In 2023, Baker Intermediate School will be putting on its rendition.

This weekend, “The Little Mermaid Jr.” will take place at Robert D. Campbell Junior High School at 620 Boone Avenue.

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The performance – produced by the Baker Theatre Department – will take place on Friday, Feb. 10t and Saturday, Feb. 11 at 7:00 p.m. There is also a Sunday performance at 2:00 p.m.

“‘The Little Mermaid’ is one of my favorites because I was in kindergarten when it came out in theaters,” said Katie Berner, a library media specialist, and Baker theatre department co-director, along with her husband Collin. “We knew we had the actors to fill the roles, and you have to have it for an iconic show like ‘The Little Mermaid.’ That’s why we picked it.”

“The Little Mermaid” is the story of Ariel, a young mermaid who makes a deal with a sea witch to trade her voice in exchange for human legs so she can be with her love interest – Prince Eric.

However, trouble ensues when the sea witch – Ursula – wants to gain power by obtaining the magical trident of Ariel’s father, King Triton.

An extensive supporting cast helps make up the story, while numerous songs from the original Disney film – including “Under the Sea,” “Kiss the Girl,” and “Les Poissons” – will be heard.

The performance has also borrowed some pieces from the Broadway musical version.

“It is really cool to kind of watch the kids during the process,” said Collin Berner, a music teacher at Shearer Elementary School who is co-directing for the first time. “When we start to really string everything together, it’s…cool to see how they react to the whole show.”

Being a musical production, song, and dance certainly go together.

To assist in the process, Hannah Christopher – an elementary education major at Eastern Kentucky – has served as the choreographer since the fall. At that time, rehearsals began twice a week, though they have since taken place nightly over the last two weeks.

From then until now, Christopher has seen changes.

“A lot of the times, the kids are really timid, and they don’t know what to do when I’m teaching it to them,” she said. “Seeing them get on stage and be able to do it without me [now] even telling them what to do is very rewarding.”

Dakotah Brown, an assistant at Clark County Preschool, has also filled the roles of providing hair and makeup while serving as set and assistant stage manager.

She has been involved with productions since 2014.

“We’re just all a big old team. We do everything together,” she said. “I get to make lots of things, and that’s my creative bone.”

Certainly not least of all, sixth-grade Baker Intermediate School student Avery Dore will play Ariel.

At Shearer Elementary School, Dore first started performing in musical theatre and spoke candidly about getting the news following her audition.

“Let’s just say the house was covered in screams after that, and I was really happy,” Dore said. “Ariel is an amazing character…it just makes me feel so much happier about myself.”

While Dore wished to thank Katie and Collin Berner, among others, the latter two acknowledged that the play was largely made possible by the efforts of those involved.

“This group of kids is a fantastic group of kids to work with,” Katie Berner said. “They are patient, they are supportive of each other, and I love seeing them come together.”