As a Jenkins High Senior, Kayti Hilzinger is looking forward to her directing debut to direct StageTime’s fall musical Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Jr. based on a classic Disney Princess story known for it’s recognizable musical numbers like “Kiss the Girl,” “Under the Sea” and Ursula’s “Poor Unfortunate Souls.”
“Half my job is already done,” Hilzinger said, “since many kids will have all the songs memorized already.”
Musical Theatre International’s junior version of The Little Mermaid is based on the Broadway musical that was inspired by the original Disney animated movie released in 1989. Hilzinger said she likes the Broadway musical even better than the original movie because it expands on the love story between Prince Eric and Ariel to give it more depth, making it more believable.
Hilzinger will be directing the show starting Sept. 14 with auditions on Sept. 21. The performances are scheduled for the weekend of Dec. 9-11.
The lead characters include Ariel, Prince Eric, Ursula, and Sebastian the crab. There are also six mer-sisters, Flounder, Scuttle and King Triton. Larger character ensembles, suited for the youngest cast, include sea creatures and sailors.
Hilzinger said musicals are her favorite productions to be a part of because they are a lot of fun and she also wanted the junior version since it is more appropriate for the ages of the students that participate in StageTime. She said junior versions are adapted to have a more condensed script with more large-group numbers versus solos, and written for a younger age group.
She also likes that she can get creative with costumes and the set since half the show takes place underwater, which will make it a fun show to see and be a part of, she said.
Knowing that directing is a “once in a senior year” opportunity, Hilzinger has been working hard to be as prepared as possible. StageTime producer Janet McLaughlin usually has a high school senior directing her fall shows.
Hilzinger was Jessica Sety’s Stage Manager for Willy Wonka, Jr. last spring, which she said gave her a new appreciation for everyone working behind the stage. Hilzinger learned a lot during that time, taking cues from Sety, a theatre arts college graduate, and also saw how things operate backstage. Hilzinger has also gone to see different versions of the The Little Mermaid to get a reference on what’s possible and give her ideas for things like choreography.
One of her challenges will be to execute it the way she imagines.
“I have a perfect picture in my head of what the show could be,” Hilzinger said.
But she added, “I have to remember not to stress over anything too much, and remind myself they are just kids, and they are here to have fun and grow; I’m here to grow, too.”
Hilzinger has been participating in StageTime since she was in second grade, and has also been very active in theatre in middle school and high school. Her favorite roles were Donkey from Shrek the Musical, Jr. directed by Sety in Spring 2015, and Little Red from the JHS fall production of Into the Woods. Both characters were very different but significant in being Hilzinger’s first major roles.
Hilzinger is also very active in her community besides participating in theatre. Just this year, she is Chewelah’s Distinguished Young Woman having just returned from a week in Pullman to participate in the Washington State DYW program; she participated at Running Start last year to earn college credits; she is the new executive head of the JHS SPHYR club, a program of Rural Resources promoting healthy youth relationships; and she is ASB Secretary and a long-time volunteer with Special Olympics.
Hilzinger said she doesn’t know what she wants to do when she graduates high school but is open to apply at any in-state university. She is also undecided on her major but expects her college experience will likely involve theatre in some way or another.
StageTime first meets Wednesday, Sept. 14. The Wednesday classes are required for all participants. The cost is $45. To audition on Wednesday, Sept. 21, all potential cast members must provide an 8 inch by 10 inch black and white headshot and updated resume. Students fifth grade and younger meet from 3:30-5 p.m., and 6th – 12th grade meets from 5:30-7 p.m. Rehearsals are after school every Tuesday and Thursday with required classes on Wednesdays.
For more information, contact Janet McLaughlin at 509-995-7285 or Hilzinger at 509-935-4978.
By Kellie Trudeau/The Independent Staff