“We were scheduled to do ‘The Little Mermaid’ in the summer of 2021, but with COVID, it got postponed,” said Robin Shaddle, Recreation Supervisor at the City of Santa Clara’s Parks & Recreation Department.
The creative, technical and production teams at the Roberta Jones Junior Theatre (RJJT), part of the Parks and Recreation Department, are making up for lost time as they put on “The Little Mermaid Jr.” as this summer’s CATS (Creative Artistic Theatrical Showcase) summer camp production.
The show tells the story of a mermaid named Ariel (Aadya Khanna) who falls in love with Prince Eric (Patrick Krupa). Ariel trades her voice for the chance of getting the prince to reciprocate her affections.
This show features talented local youth – 60 cast members from ages 8 to 15 and 12 crew members from ages 10 to 18.
Maddy Reader, Show Director, is a former RJJT participant who performed in 12 shows.
“In 2013, I was in RJJT’s ‘The Little Mermaid Jr,’” Reader shared. “I played Andrina, one of the mersisters. One of my favorite scenes I did then was when the mersisters sang, ‘She’s in Love.’ It was fun to get into my character and play off the excitement of the other sisters when they realized Ariel falling in love was what was making her act differently in the family. It has been exactly 10 years since I was in the show. I was excited I got to choreograph ‘She’s in Love’ for this show. I taught this group of mersisters one of the same dance moves I did when I was in the show.”
Reader is enthusiastic about the cast and the visual elements of this production.
“We have a nice mix of actors who do our school year shows, and we have a good mix of our summer CATS camp kids,” Reader said. “I really like how, in this show, we get to incorporate more ensembles. We have an ensemble called the Sea Chorus. They are basically like the visual cue for the audience that we are in the ocean and that there are a bunch of waves happening.
“Our lighting design is pretty cool,” Reader continued. “We’re using black light for Ursula’s lair, so it looks really cool onstage.”
Speaking of visual cues for the audience, the stage is darkened in many of Ursula’s scenes. Fortunately, Sophie Krupa, 13, who plays Ursula, can still see everything around her when she is onstage.
“During Ursula’s scenes, the watery pattern of the lights are projected onto the set,” Sophie said. “The set is neon and glows in the dark.”
When asked what she likes about playing Ursula, Sophie replied, “I get to be evil. Ursula is very narcissistic. She cares a lot about herself. She’s manipulative. She tricks Ariel into giving her her voice.”
“The Little Mermaid Jr.” runs from July 18-20. RJJT’s other summer youth theater program, “Grease,” runs from Aug. 4-6. Tickets for both shows, held at the Mission City Center for Performing Arts, can be purchased at www.rjjt.org.