Student-run musical a success

By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
Windsor Locks - posted Thu., Feb. 21, 2013
Ariel, played by Sam Murdock, sings 'Part of Your World' while Flounder, played by Hope Netolicky, looks on. Photos by Colin Rajala.
Ariel, played by Sam Murdock, sings 'Part of Your World' while Flounder, played by Hope Netolicky, looks on. Photos by Colin Rajala.

The Windsor Locks Middle School auditorium was transformed on Feb. 13 and 14 as the guests who packed the seats found themselves riding on a crustacean- and barnacle-incrusted ship for the students' performance of Disney’s "The Little Mermaid, Jr.," on the beautiful ocean floor - or stage.

“It was amazing to see the performance. There were points at the beginning where I was thinking this is never going to work, because it’s a hard play to stage,” said Mary Spencer, middle school art teacher and play director. “To watch them all come through, I stood there shaking my head going, 'This is really amazing, what they’ve done.' To know that our kids were able to draw in an audience that much was really satisfying. This show engaged the audience as much as anything we’ve ever done.”

Guests left both shows mesmerized by the students’ production, as Sam Murdock personified Ariel’s mischievous yet innocent behavior. They laughed throughout at the clever one-liners by Sebastian, played by Wyatt Cannon, and were captivated by the struggle of power and force displayed by Nathan DeJesus as King Triton and Lily Muzzarelli as Ursula. They rooted for Prince Eric, played by Aran Gillette, and cheered when his wish, and theirs, finally came true.

The show featured songs like, "Part of Your World," "She's in Love," "Kiss the Girl" and "Under the Sea," and many of the guests joined in, singing along with the classics. The show featured a variety of intense special effects that most middle school groups could not pull off, from the black lights and bubbles when Ursula steals Ariel’s voice, to the stormy seas and thunder where Ariel must rescue Eric.

The hour-and-a-half-long musical was run almost entirely by students, from the elaborate sets and hand-painted backdrops, to the intricate lighting and complex sound set-up. The only outside help came from Spencer’s overall guidance, music teacher Cindy Latournes’ support as music director, former WLMS actress Paige Fortier’s aid with dance routines as the choreographer, and David Block’s jack-of-all-trades assistance with set construction. The performance nights are run solely by students, with their trouble-shooting abilities coming out when something goes awry.

“It’s nice to see the students taking the leadership roles, and behind the curtains you can really see leaders developing,” Latournes said. “Sometimes they surprise themselves, but they come through when it matters most; they get it done.”

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