Dana Hood, left, as Ariel, Nathan Pauley, center, as Prince Eric and Tatum Smith as Sebastian rehearse Tuesday for this weekend's production of 'The Little Mermaid Jr.' at the Dunn Center for the Performing Arts.

Telegram photo / Alan Campbell

Dana Hood, left, as Ariel, Nathan Pauley, center, as Prince Eric and Tatum Smith as Sebastian rehearse Tuesday for this weekend's production of 'The Little Mermaid Jr.' at the Dunn Center for the Performing Arts.

Youth troupe presents ‘Mermaid Jr.’

From Contributed Reports

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A youth acting troupe will stage Disney’s “The Little Mermaid Jr.” this weekend as the conclusion of its summer drama program.

About 50 students in third through 12th grades helped by students from N.C. Wesleyan College, East Carolina University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary will stage the play as part of the Activate Drama program. The show starts at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Dunn Center for the Performing Arts at N.C. Wesleyan.

“Many people who attend our productions are surprised by the high quality of the performance aspects and the creative solutions we apply to the technical design aspects,” Danelle Cauley, artistic director of Activate Drama, said in the release. “We expect the best from people and help them reach this through challenging them in an unconditionally positive atmosphere.”

Bobbi Weeks, who has seen other Activate Drama productions, spoke enthusiastically about “Mermaid” and encouraged community members to attend its productions.

“I love being in the audience clapping for all the wonderful entertainment that comes our way,” she said in the release. “Remember, without an audience, actors don’t have a stage.”

The 60-minute musical is adapted by David Weinstein from the Hans Christian Andersen story and the 1989 Walt Disney Pictures animated feature film and 2008 Broadway production of “The Little Mermaid.” “Mermaid Jr.” includes all of the songs from the Academy Award-winning film and three new songs from the Broadway show.

The play takes place in a magical kingdom beneath the sea, where Ariel, a beautiful young mermaid, longs to leave her ocean home to live in the world above. But first, she’ll have to defy her father, the king of the sea, escape the clutches of an evil sea witch and convince a prince that she’s the girl with the perfect voice.

Activate Drama is a local theater company whose mission is to engage students, artists and audiences in theater experiences that educate, motivate and illuminate, the release says. The company also creates theater experiences that allow participants to grow in self-confidence, in appreciation of differences and in respect for themselves and others.

“I love to participate in the shows because I can just be myself and people don’t care how weird and crazy I can be,” Abigail Pauley, 12, said in the release. “I love learning new things in musical theater, especially dancing and acting. I also love using and sharing my talents that God has given me. I learn something new every show and become better at singing, acting and dancing.”

Cauley has more than 20 years’ experience working in education and currently serves as the drama teacher at Faith Christian School and as an adjunct professor in the Department of Entertainment and Theater at N.C. Wesleyan. She earned a bachelor’s of fine arts in performance from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master’s of fine arts in acting from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.

Amanda Pauley is Activate Drama’s musical director and the volunteer music director at Faith Christian School. She has sung professionally with Virginia Opera, Opera Roanoke and North Arkansas Symphony and has taught private voice and piano lessons since 1990. She holds a bachelor’s of music from Ouachita Baptist University and a master’s of music in vocal performance from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.

Tickets are available through the Dunn Center’s box office at 985-5197. They cost $10 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens.

For information, call Cauley at 828-545-2884 or email at activate.drama@gmail.com.

Comments

WONDERFUL

I have been to a couple of the presentations by this group. The program is absolutely amazing. The kids are amazing. The production very professional. I would encourage anyone in the city to go out to the Dunn Center and view the program. You will be amazed and excited. The ladies who lead this program are wonderful and their love and the interest that they show in these kids is very touching. PLEASE GO, SUPPORT KIDS WHO ARE DOING IT RIGHT.

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