‘The Little Mermaid’ opening tonight at LHS

By Sarah Brown

Lebanon Local

Wanna hear a tale of the bottomless blue, where a mermaid may be waiting for you?

Do you want to hear Ariel with her red hair twirled, singing of treasures and desire to be part of your world?

Lebanon Association for Theatre Arts presents “The Little Mermaid” this week, with a cast of 46 actors and a handful of behind-the-scenes volunteers. Opening Night is tonight, at Lebanon High School auditorium. 

It takes a lot of people and hard work to put on such a production, said Terri Krebs, founder of LAFTA and director of orchestra for the play.

Krebs praised the work of parents and volunteers who made the costumes and designed the scenes, including Emily Latimer, who made barnacles from candy wrappers and coffee filters, and sea flora from pool noodles.

(It took) a lot of sawing and hot glue and cutting and wire, but mostly hot glue. Many, many pounds of hot glue,” Latimer said of her elaborate pool noodle design.

Latimer teamed with Diana Givens to create under-the-sea thrones and caves, and to build rocks and ships for the two-legged people. She has been involved with LAFTA since her two girls started at the organization’s kids camp almost a decade ago.

That’s why they fell in love with theater, and we didn’t have theater at the school they were currently going to,” she said.

Since then, Latimer helped start theater at Pioneer School and revived the theater at Seven Oak, where she now teaches. She had no prior experience in theater, but attributes all her knowledge to Krebs, who gave her the opportunity to learn the ropes.

I just keep changing roles. I’m learning tech stuff (now) and just trying to learn it all. It’s been fun.”

The production is co-directed by Krebs and Ryan McWayne, who is usually found on the other end of the stage.

It’s a total mix for me because I really love the creation process and I love working with Terri and coming up with these ideas, but the actor’s heart is still very much missing not being up there dancing with them,” McWayne said. “It’s hard going from one side to the other.”

LAFTA began 12 years ago when Krebs agreed to help put on a fundraiser production for a new sound system for the high school. Since then, the productions have raised enough money to financially support band, vocal and theater teachers, as well as purchase new equipment, instruments and storage.

The Little Mermaid” will be LAFTA’s first production of which they will utilize a new throw projector for backdrops. Prior to the projector, the team would have to draw and paint all their backgrounds on canvas and muslin.

The cast has been rehearsing “The Little Mermaid” for months, and more recently rehearsing late into the evenings. Those who attend the show this week will witness a talented crew of actors and singers from the Willamette Valley.

They get a good show,” Krebs said. “It’s all these local people coming together, and the money goes to a good cause. It goes back to the schools.”

Lead and supporting actors include Josie Davis as Ariel, Jacob Duda as Prince Eric, and Hunter Gutierrez as Sebastian, all from Albany. Lebanites include Annie Latimer as Flounder, Logan Burt as King Triton, and Natalie McAllister, who does a sweet dance number with Gutierrez. And Mercedes Mendez of Brownsville cannot be overlooked as she wows the audience with her role as Ursula.

The Little Mermaid” shows at 7 p.m. nightly Tuesday, July 23, through Saturday, July 27, at the Lebanon High School Auditorium. A matinee performance will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 27.

Tickets for the Broadway musical are $10 for general admission and $8 for seniors and students. Tickets can be purchased at lafta.webs.com, on site, or at the following ticket outlets in Lebanon: Chamber of Commerce, LinnCo Credit Union and Umpqua Bank.