My 10-year-old daughter loves theater and singing. Her favorite song right now is “Popular” from the Broadway show Wicked. Sending her to a summer drama program seems like a no-brainer, but it can be daunting, too, because I didn’t want to push her into acting, drama or singing.
Lucky for me, the staff at the Maui Academy of Performing Arts (MAPA) summer musical theater program has thought of everything for their production of Disney’s Little Mermaid, which opens at Seabury Hall’s ʻA`ali`ikūhonua Creative Arts Center on July 15. The show will bring audiences the familiar and beloved story of Ariel, Prince Eric, King Triton and Ursula, as well as the famous songs we all can’t wait to hear, but it’s so much more for the team and students involved.
“Our main goal with these kids is twofold,” says Carolyn Wright, Director of Programs at MAPA. “Of course, we want them to build their skills at singing and dancing and acting because the are at a performing arts camp. But almost more important than that is we want the kids experience to develop life skills. I’m hoping that they will walk out this summer more fully equipped to collaborate with other people of all ages, build their ability to communicate verbally and physically. I’m hoping that they learn to trust themselves and their instincts. To have the confidence to step into something that is maybe a little scary, a little out of their comfort zone. If they can do that here, where we hope is a really safe environment, when they get out into the real world they will be more comfortable doing that. That confidence is a key to success in anything we do, whether it be work or school. That confident to step out into the unknown, and do it with a little flair.”
That’s why my life this summer has been enriched with show tunes, my own private Little Mermaid dance shows, carpooling and volunteering to make costumes. Highlights for my daughter’s summer certainly include the social aspects of getting to know so many other youth, older and younger, on stage and off. But there’s even more to it than that. The show’s director, Sally Sefton–an English teacher at Seabury any other time of the year–has some tricks up her sleeve.
“We are doing this beautiful play, it’s going to be done with great care, costumes, sets, choreography, everything,” says Sefton. “There is another level to every experience I have with the kids, whether it’s Seabury or here: I want to take them to another level that is not just about razzmatazz and singing a song. Last year with Oliver, it was an exploration of hunger. We went to the homeless shelter. We thought about what it would be like on the streets. This year, with The Little Mermaid, it’s going to be ocean awareness. So I really want the kids, besides being under the sea with the songs, to really understand what’s going on under the sea.”
As it gets closer to opening night, the kids are getting more and more excited. All said and done, more than 200 hours of acting, dancing and singing will be under the belts of 71 students aged eight to 18. I can’t wait to see the show.
The Little Mermaid team is extensive. Besides Sefton and Wright, there is Musical Director Kirsten Otterson, Choreographer Vanessa Cerrito, Lead Teaching Artist Kathleen Schulz, Teaching Artists Logan Heller and Eva Sikes and Stage Manager Rachel Bega. There’s also Set Designer Todd Van Amburgh, Lighting Designer Ricky Jones, Props Designer Kari Welch and Sound Designer Jason Pfahl.
Get tickets for The Little Mermaid by calling the MAPA box office at 808-244-6272, or visit Mauiacademy.org.
Disney’s The Little Mermaid
ʻAʻaliʻikūhonua Creative Arts Center, Seabury Hall,
480 Olinda Rd., Makawao.
July 15-17 and 22-24
Fridays at 7pm, Saturdays at 3pm and 7pm, Sundays at 3pm
Tickets are $10-18.
Visit Mauiacademy.org or call the the MAPA box office at 808-244-MAPA (6272).