Youth acting workshop to present ‘Little Mermaid’

Published 12:01 am Sunday, June 19, 2016

NATCHEZ — A casual look at the Natchez Little Theatre might not reveal it, but walking through the doors will take visitors to a world under the sea.

NLT’s Summer Youth Workshop will present “The Little Mermaid,” the junior version of the Broadway musical based on the Walt Disney animated feature of the same name, June 23 to 26.

Now in its 12th year, the youth workshop is the theater’s annual offering to area children and teens to get involved with the stage — acting, singing, dancing, as well as lighting, makeup and costumes — in a show that will primarily feature youth actors.

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“It is always exciting, because we do have kids that have been with us for quite some time, and we always have the influx of newer kids coming into it,” NLT Executive and Artistic Director Layne Taylor said.

“This year the workshop had over 30 young people participating. The majority of the participants are home grown, from Adams, Wilkinson and Jefferson counties and the parishes across the river, but we are getting more and more kids coming in from out of town — from Illinois, Texas and Alabama, kids who are coming to Natchez for the summer to spend with their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents, and to participate in the workshop, which I think is wonderful.”

The workshop began May 31, and has met every Monday through Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m.

“By the time we open the show, we will have been at it for four weeks, 16 hours a week,” Taylor said.

The program has been directed and choreographed by Shemeka Ware, with musical direction by Terrence Robinson.

Ware said the musical’s storyline basically follows that of the Disney film — young mermaid falls in love with a human, makes a Faustian deal with a witch and must redeem it within a brief period of time — “there are some surprises.”

“Some of the songs are longer than you hear on the movie, but shorter than the Broadway version,” she said.

“We always enjoy doing the Disney shows, because the kids come in already familiar with the basic plot and don’t need a lot of background on the characters — the fact that they know who the characters are, that they know the plot, that helps us since we are working on an abbreviated schedule.”

Working on that abbreviated schedule means that instead of working on music, then blocking and then choreography for scenes, the process is cut down to two steps, with choreography and blocking being done at the same time.

“This is usually done on a much bigger stage, but I think we have done a good job adapting it to our stage and setting,” Ware said.

“When the kids walk into the theater, they are ready. They are boundless with energy, and they are excited.”

The youth actors in the production range from ages of 8 to 19.

“They are from all walks of life, and the theater also involves the parents, so each child’s parents have hosted one of our workshop breaks,” Taylor said.

Teaching volunteers for the production have been Sara Davis, Courtney Fleming, Katie Borum, Jinny Borum, Sarah Carey and Jennifer Rosso.

Performances of “The Little Mermaid” will be 7:30 p.m. June 23 to 25, and 2 p.m. June 26.

All tickets are $20, and can be purchased in advance online at or by calling 601-442-2233.

Tickets are also available at the box office at the time of the show.