The upcoming Kids Coop Theatre production of “The Little Mermaid Jr.” is this year’s annual Young Directors Show. Three of the group’s older teen members have been given the opportunity to take charge of the creative process while being mentored in their director roles by professionals.
The teen play director is Claire Neville, 17, of Londonderry, a senior at Holy Family Academy in Manchester.
“The thought of such a big responsibility – being essentially in control of a fullscale musical production – has been pretty intimidating from the start,” she said. “But everyone involved, both the kids and adults doing backstage work, have been nothing but wonderful, and I look forward to seeing the end result of all our hard work. I don’t plan on pursuing acting as a career, but I would still like to continue doing it for as long as I can for enjoyment.”
Sarah Rodgers, 16, of Derry, a Pinkerton Academy sophomore, is music director.
“My role is to teach the kids how to sing and keep in time with the music,” she said. “The harmonies in some of the songs sound fantastic and I’m very proud of this cast. When I graduate, I am thinking about being more involved in the technical aspects of theater, such as costume and makeup design.”
Choreographer is 18-year old Pinkerton senior Brenna Morgan from Derry.
“My role is to teach the cast the dances to each number,” she explained. “This involves things like matching movement to words, staying in character and good technique. I have taken dance for eight years and have a lot of dance knowledge and experience in performing. Along with this, I also know a lot about teaching good technique and rhythm. I can completely see myself involved in theater for years to come whether as an actor, choreographer or a director.”
Their mentor, Jude Bascom, has more than 30 years of experience in all areas of the performing arts.
“All three of the young directors have a positive and enthusiastic attitude about this production and with the cast,” she said. “All have taken their directing roles seriously. Each of them has their very distinct strengths but work cooperatively as a team, and the show will benefit from their combined creativity. They are a pleasure to mentor.”
The cast enjoys the play as well. Danielle Kuhl of Hampstead said, “This is my second year with Kids Coop. Even though I’ve been involved with theater for a long time before, the experience with KCT is the best. You get to meet lots of people who love to do what you love to do, and the directors are great. Plus, it’s an excuse to wear drastic makeup, even the guys!”
Local members of the cast are from Hampstead are Danielle Kuhl and Isabella Charlebois, and from Sandown is Logan Young.
The Kids Coop Theatre is a 501©3 educational charity founded in 1997 with a mission to provide children ages 8 through 18 a fun, safe, noncompetitive environment in which to develop talent, self esteem, learn teamwork and leadership skills, and make life-long friends through acting, music, and dance. The programs are open to area children. With the exception of the hired professional artistic directors, everything relating to the productions is performed and handled by dedicated parent volunteers.
The play takes the stage March 7 at 7 p.m., March 8 at 1 and 7 p.m., and March 9 at 1 p.m. at the Derry Opera House on West Broadway in Derry. All tickets are $12 and are available at http://www.kids-coop-theatre.org/.