Walt Disney Studios released “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in 1937.
With that full-length, all animated feature film, the first “Disney Princess” was born.
Over the years, Snow White was followed by decades of princes and princesses, creating a gold standard in the movie world.
The thespians at Archbold High School take on the challenge of bringing one of those princesses to the stage.
AHS presents “The Little Mermaid,” Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, April 15- 17, at the AHS auditorium.
Based on the 1989 Disney movie by the same name, the show tells the story of Arial, the youngest of seven daughters of King Triton of the sea.
Allie McQuade, a senior, plays Arial. Adam Grisier, another senior, is her prince, Eric.
“Speaking for myself and hopefully for Allie, as a Disney prince and princess, it’s kind of big shoes to fill,” Grisier said.
“It’s really been fun and challenging to try to make the beloved characters on screen come to life on stage,” McQuade said.
“I feel like it makes (performing the role in the show) that much harder.
“You have to live up to the expectation what they (Disney) have put in front of us.”
But Grisier and McQuade aren’t the only ones who have challenging characters.
Malinda Lugbill, a junior, plays Ursula, the villain of the show. In person, she is anything but villain-ish.
“Malinda is the sweetest person you will ever meet in your life,” McQuade said.
“That’s why I’m kind of excited” about the role, Lugbill said.
“I get to show a completely different side, and kind of surprise people coming to the show.
“Every time I tell someone I’m a villain, they’re like… ‘seriously?’
Lugbill said she is working on the role.
To help her become a villain, “We try to be mean to her,” Grisier said.
“They try to be mean to me so it brings it out, but it makes me even nicer sometimes,” Lugbill said.
“But I think of a situation that makes me kind of mad, then put that in my head and go from there.”
One aspect of a high school production is that the actors are all more or less the same age; yet, they are called upon to often play characters much older than themselves.
Take Will Collins. The senior plays King Triton.
“I play the roll of a single father, a widower, and I’m very stressed and stretched by my seven lovely and stubborn daughters,” he said.
Ellie Rupp, a senior, plays one of Arial’s sisters, or “mersisters.”
“I’m sassy,” she said of her character– which is not out of character for her.
“I’m very sassy naturally,” Rupp said.
Marin Parsley, a freshman, plays Flounder, the guppy that follows Arial around.
“He is afraid of his own shadow, and I am not, by any stretch of the imagination,” Parsley said.
“I’m a very loud and dynamic person, and being reserved as Flounder is definitely a challenge.”
Not The Same
Because of the popularity of the movie, people may think they know the story when they enter the theatre.
But in the musical version, the plot takes some different twists and turns.
Beyond that, the actors explained the experience of seeing a movie and seeing a live musical are not the same.
“It’s just got a kind of different feel,” Collins said.
“You can watch a movie and be happy after the movie, but when you watch a musical, I think you get the kind of whole feeling of the plot. You understand what’s going on in the character’s mind.”
“You see that alive expression of emotion in a character, and that connection between the characters. You don’t have that on screen,” McQuade said.
“If you have a singing number in a movie, you see things moving around, but in a musical, you see all the different characters dancing, all these people dancing, and it’s never the same each time. You watch a movie, and it’s the exact same thing every time,” Grisier said.
“Each night, it might change a little bit because an actor decides to do something different.”
Meet & Greet
A new aspect for the production of “The Little Mermaid” is that children will have a chance to meet the characters at a special meet and greet at the Archbold Elementary
School Blue Pod, Saturday, April 9, from 10 am to 12 noon.
But “The Little Mermaid,” appeals to more than just little girls who love princesses.
Grisier said people who grew up with the movie, who are in their mid-20s today, “are almost more excited about it than some of the little girls you talk to.”