Valley Middle students head ‘under the sea’

Eighth-graders Claire Doty and Kallie Buss are among the 120 students in the Valley Middle School drama club who are participating in the production of “The Little Mermaid” as actors, tech crew members, makeup artists, and costume and prop helpers. Doty is cast as the mermaid in the adapted Disney musical; Buss is a flounder. (Photo by Andrew Miller)

Eighth-graders Claire Doty and Kallie Buss are among the 120 students in the Valley Middle School drama club who are participating in the production of “The Little Mermaid” as actors, tech crew members, makeup artists, and costume and prop helpers. Doty is cast as the mermaid in the adapted Disney musical; Buss is a flounder. (Photo by Andrew Miller)

Becoming a crustacean was no problem for Ben Schwartz. The Jamaican accent took some doing, though.

The Valley Middle School seventh-grader is cast as the musical Jamaican crab Sebastian in the school drama club’s production of “The Little Mermaid.”

His costume is a shiny red tuxedo and his accent, he hopes, will convince audiences he’s actually logged time in the Caribbean. With the help of a CD, he spent weeks practicing the accent at home.

It’s all part of the fun of being in the Apple Valley school’s drama club, said Schwartz, who’s also acted in the school’s productions of “Charlotte’s Web” and “We the People.”

“I just love impersonating characters and making the characters what I want them to be,” he said. “The best part, I think, is getting to entertain people.”

Schwartz is among about 120 students in the drama club who are participating in the production of “The Little Mermaid” as actors, tech crew members, makeup artists, and costume and prop helpers.

Valley Middle School drama club members rehearse Monday for their upcoming production of "The Little Mermaid." Front row, from left: Anya Wilson, Grace Miller, Kati Devitt. Second row: Alicia Goblirsch, Rachel Scottl, Keliana Reddell. Back row: Sarah Dubois. (Photo by Andrew Miller)

Valley Middle School drama club members rehearse Monday for their upcoming production of “The Little Mermaid.” Front row, from left: Anya Wilson, Grace Miller, Kati Devitt. Second row: Alicia Goblirsch, Rachel Scottl, Keliana Reddell. Back row: Sarah Dubois. (Photo by Andrew Miller)

Weeks of rehearsals in the Valley Middle School cafeteria – which also serves as the drama club’s performance hall – culminate in stagings of the adapted Disney musical April 11-13.

School District 196 helps cover some of the drama club’s costs, but much of the bill for each production is up to the club, with concessions sold during performances helping to pay for props, costumes, sound equipment, spotlights and other essentials.

Performances of “The Little Mermaid” are scheduled for 7 p.m. April 11-12 and 2 p.m. April 13. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students and senior citizens; children under 5 get in free.

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