Summer Stage Wooster prepares to head under the sea for ‘The Little Mermaid’

Summer Stage Wooster prepares to head under the sea for ‘The Little Mermaid’
Marlane Kennedy Photography

Grayson Abend, left, is Prince Eric, and Alysa Musselman is Ariel in “The Little Mermaid.” The Summer Stage Wooster show will have five performances beginning July 20.


Summer Stage Wooster will make a splash this month, and everyone is invited to join in under the sea — and in the air as well — for the upcoming production of “The Little Mermaid.”

Previews of a few live numbers of the show will be performed by the cast at the Wooster Farmers Market on July 13 at 10:30 a.m. The show will open July 20 and run through July 28 at the Wooster High School Performing Arts Center, 515 Oldman Road, Wooster. Show times include July 20, 26 and 27 at 7 p.m. and July 21 and 28 at 2 p.m.

“(The Little Mermaid) is a popular Disney show, and it’s perfect for all ages and families,” said Todd Patterson, the founder and artistic director of Summer Stage Wooster. “It has great music and allows creative freedom for the production staff in its storytelling. We’re adding many of our own twists to make it extra special. Also, having been a teacher of marine biology for 30 years, it’s my pleasure to take folks under the sea again.”

There are 73 people in the cast, ranging in age from 7-73 and hailing from Wayne, Holmes and Ashland counties, and the production boasts a live orchestra made up of local musicians.

“A live orchestra allows musical theater magic to come to life. It also expands opportunities for community members to become involved,” Patterson said. “To me, it’s not real musical theater without live musicians.”

Many cast members are experienced, and a few are performing in their first live stage production.

“We have members with degrees in the theater arts and some with professional experience,” Patterson said. “We have the talents of music professional members from The College of Wooster, Drama Club advisers from Wooster High School, choir and drama directors from Ashland and Orrville high schools, and several educators from the area. We are a diverse and talented bunch.”

Most of the crew work is done by the actors as part of their commitment to the production. In addition, there are about 30 more community volunteers helping with the myriad backstage and front-of-stage tasks.

“It takes a lot to put on a great show,” Patterson said. “All are volunteers with only a handful of production staff receiving a small stipend for their services. Our shows are our gift to our community.”

In this Summer Stage production, 11 cast members will take to the air. The company is working with Vertigo Flying effects, a professional company that serves the Broadway community and theaters across the country.

“Birds will fly and mermaids and other aquatic creatures will swim,” Patterson said. “Vertigo will install the equipment and train us over a three-day process. Then it’s up to our volunteers to make the magic happen.”

Stephanie Musselman is the show’s choreographer. “What a fun show to choreograph,” she said. “We have tapping gulls, ballet dancers, dancing chefs and, of course, swimming fish. The musical number ‘Under the Sea’ is full of surprises and lively dancing.

“Doing community theater is such a joy. I get to work with returning cast members and lots of new faces including some wonderful, enthusiastic children.”

“The Little Mermaid” tickets are available online in advance and at the door. Tickets for adults are $20 while students and seniors get in for $15.

A portion of the proceeds will go to the Wooster High School Drama Club with the rest ensuring Summer Stage Wooster can continue to provide live local productions at low cost.

“For this show we’ve decided to expand the breadth of our production by including several members of Ballet Wooster to dance in the show,” Patterson said. “We have received generous donations from local service groups including Wooster Rotary, Wooster Elks Club, Wooster Kiwanis and Wooster Lions. They have all invested their support in our mission to provide great live theater in our area.”

Patterson also said Summer Stage Wooster always welcomes volunteers who can help in myriad ways.

“Just let us know you’d like to help out — on our website or on social media — and we’ll find a place for you,” he said.

To find out more about supporting Summer Stage through donations of time, money, goods or services, visit Find Summer Stage Wooster on Facebook and Instagram.

“This should be a real treat for the community,” Musselman said.

“The Little Mermaid is packed full of a sweet, caring cast who just want to share this nostalgic, hopeful tale,” said Alysa Musselman, a member of the cast who will play Ariel.

“Everyone will enjoy this show — it is truly a show for all ages,” Patterson said. “The energy created on stage and in the soul is unmatched. Audiences can escape in the story, music and dance happening right in front of them, and kids will get a great education in the performing arts. We hope folks can join us under the sea.”

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