LPHS presents ‘The Little Mermaid’ this week

Nadia Phillip, who plays Ariel in The Little Mermaid, poses with her sister, first-grader Laila Phillip, at Lake Placid Elementary School on Tuesday, March 1. (Provided photo — Alicia Brandes)

LAKE PLACID — Lake Placid High School theater students are going under the sea this week to give a four-show performance of the musical “The Little Mermaid.”

Performances of “The Little Mermaid” will be held in the Lake Placid Middle High School auditorium at 7 p.m. this Thursday through Saturday, with one matinee at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Tickets for adults are $8, and tickets for students are $5; there will be no presale. Masks will not be required.

Part of your world

This will be the school’s first spring musical since 2019. Theater students were wrapping up nearly three months of rehearsal for the musical “Cinderella” in March 2020 when students were shifted to remote learning because of the coronavirus pandemic. Two weeks before the show was due to open, the school closed and the performances were canceled. Now, the theater is opening its curtains again for a robust 28-student cast that’s ready to burst into song.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced earlier this week that mask mandates will lift in schools statewide today, and “The Little Mermaid” Director Taylor Prosper gave his cast the option to drop the masks for performances this week. He said students responded positively to the thought of performing without a mask. He gathered that the entire cast would attempt going maskless.

“They are pretty excited that they get to sing uninhibited by the masks,” Prosper said. “Some of them noted that now they have to really turn their faces on! It’s something they’ve been able to get away with for the past two years. Overall, they’re pumped to put on the show and going maskless is a bonus.”

Today is also the last day of rehearsal before the show opens on Thursday. That gives students who don’t want to wear masks one day of rehearsing without them. Masks have a tendency to affect performance — facial expressions and vocal projection can be limited by them — and throwing them out last minute could create the need for some adjustments. Prosper called it “a fun little show week twist.”

It’s music to me

Rehearsals for the show started with school after winter break, giving the cast eight weeks instead of the average 12 weeks for rehearsal. Prosper said schools around the Tri-Lakes try to stagger their theater shows so local musicians aren’t spread too thin and the high school theater programs can support each other. To accommodate the abbreviated rehearsal schedule, Prosper said he front-loaded the heavy, individual work in January rehearsals and brought in the full cast to work together in February.

“Fingers crossed, I think it’s working pretty well,” he said.

The show features some LPHS theater veterans, like senior Hannah Wylie, 18, and some newer faces, like senior Jack Armstrong, 17.

Armstrong is usually kicking around a soccer ball, laying up a basketball or driving a golf ball for LPHS, but lately he’s been singing songs about a mermaid on the high school’s stage. Armstrong performs as Prince Eric in “The Little Mermaid,” and it’s his first musical. He said the experience is very unlike, but also similar, to his life in sports.

Sports and theater are a lot alike because something needs to get done and it has to get done by a certain day, Armstrong said. It’s the environment in the theater that’s so different to him — the people you’d never imagine meeting, the cool and calm atmosphere, the whispers of “good luck” backstage, the community that’s created during a show.

Armstrong said he was shy in the first couple of years of high school, but he was in chorus and had some friends who liked to sing, too. Eventually, Prosper noticed his talent and helped him get more involved with singing in front of other people. Armstrong said that singing and performing became something he naturally put time and effort towards.

“I wanted to do it, it’s not like I was dragged into it — I found love with it and wanted to do it more and more,” he said.

Wylie has helped Armstrong out through the process, both onstage and off. She plays Sebastian in the show, encouraging Prince Eric to just “Kiss the Girl.” Offstage, Wylie encourages Armstrong to pursue his love of theater and education.

Armstrong and Wylie both plan to seek careers in secondary education after graduation, and Wylie has said she wants to teach theater. For now, the two actors are acting as mentors to the younger students performing with them in “The Little Mermaid.”

Wylie has had a busy year in the theater. She starred in last fall’s play, “The Internet is Distract-OH LOOK, A KITTEN!” and directed a radio show, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” right after. Between all three projects this year, Wylie has had less than two weeks off.

She said she found her passion in directing, where she can have her hands in a lot of different aspects of the performance. When she’s acting, she said, that’s all she’s doing. She likes being behind the scenes, supporting the show, better than being on stage.

“I like being able to kind of create and paint a picture with every little piece,” she said. “And it gives me a little bit of experience and insight into every part of theater, which I love.”

Wylie said she just moved here two years ago from North Carolina, but she’s made a lot of friends from all different walks of life in the school’s theater program.

“Being able to have those connections and to already have such a strong community within two years is, I think, a testament to this school’s community and just the community in theater,” she said.

Starting at $1.44/week.

Subscribe Today