Students from 6 local school districts part of Encore’s upcoming musical, ‘Little Mermaid Jr.’

Hamilton, Edgewood, Fairfield, Monroe, Talawanda and Lakota students make up cast.

HAMILTON — Encore Community Theatre is set to perform a family-friendly musical adaptation of “The Little Mermaid Jr.” for local audiences this month.

“‘The Little Mermaid Jr.; is one of the shows that our director Zac Holman was interested in doing. We looked into it, and we thought it would be a good time to do it, considering the new movie just came out recently. We thought the kids would enjoy performing it, and that people would want to come and see it,” said Clancey Butts, board member of Encore Community Theatre.

“You have Ariel wanting to see the human world, who saves and falls for a human, Prince Eric. Ariel’s dad is not too keen on it, but she goes to see the sea witch, Ursula, and then, she is able to gain legs, goes and interacts with the prince, and they fall in love with each other,” Butts said.

He said, “It’s a classic tale. I’m sure many of the kids have seen the movie, so seeing that brought to life on stage in front of them with kids their own age is really special.”

Adapted from Disney’s 2008 production, “The Little Mermaid Jr.” follows the classic tale of a mermaid named Ariel, who dreams of a world above the sea and gives up her voice to find love.

But first, she has to defy her father, King Triton, and make a deal with the evil sea witch, Ursula, and convince Prince Eric that she’s the girl with the enchanting voice.

The production features hit songs such as the Oscar-winning “Under the Sea,” along with “Part of Your World,” “She’s in Love” and more.

A cast of 42 actors, ensemble members and dancers have been rehearsing for the show since mid-September. Ariel is played by Janelle Benjey, Prince Eric is played by Carter Heinrich, King Triton is played by Malichai Paul, and Ursula is played by Madalyn Miles, to name a few.

Students from Hamilton, Edgewood, Fairfield, Monroe, Talawanda and Lakota school districts make up the cast.

“Audiences will love the show. Kids from their own communities have worked hard the past several weeks to bring it to the stage. They’ve put their hearts and souls into it. It’s a great expression of their creative talents, and we want to encourage that in all of them,” Butts said.

The production is about an hour long.

Encore was founded nearly 30 years ago by Diane Noonan and Lynn Huff as a summer youth theater program for teens. The program has provided youth with an opportunity to express their talents as they worked together with their peers from other area schools. Participating students also have had the chance to learn from various directors, vocal coaches, and choreographers in preparing to bring final productions to the stage.

“Next year, Encore Community Theatre turns 30 years old, and we’ve been putting on quality performances for that long. We also started Encore Jr. several years back, and we’re only able to do so with the draw we have with our main Encore stage. You’re definitely getting more than what you pay for. It’s akin to some of the productions you might see in bigger cities,” said Butts.

Fifteen years ago, Encore expanded the program to include younger students from local elementary schools with Encore Jr., a fall show that includes students from grades 3rd-6th This has allowed younger children to get an earlier start in theater and drama, while working alongside other kids from the area. More than 2,500 students have benefitted from the Encore experience and many of them have gone on to stages in Chicago and Broadway, among others. Encore’s professional quality shows continue to attract audiences from across the region to fill the 450 seats in Parrish Auditorium.

How to go

What: “The Little Mermaid Jr.” presented by Encore Community Theatre

When: 7 p.m. Oct. 27 and 2 and 7 p.m. Oct. 28

Where: Miami University Hamilton, 1601 University Blvd., Parrish Auditorium

Cost: $12 online and at the door

More:, (513) 596-5277

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