Connie Company makes splash with ‘Mermaid’

by Ann Fletcher

DAVIDSON – In the wake of Shakespearean workshops and free performances of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” The Connie Company, the youth programming arm of Davidson Community Players, dives headlong into a different genre, producing its first youth musical: “Once On This Island Jr.,” a Caribbean adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale “The Little Mermaid.”

This scaled-down, junior version — derived from the full-length Broadway musical that earned eight Tony nominations, including best musical and score — is an upbeat, 70-minute production that’s ideal for teenage casts, said Community Players Artistic Director Melissa Ohlman-Roberge, who directs the show.

“Several production companies have taken large, popular musicals and condensed them down to a one-act version,” she said. “They’re a great opportunity to produce full-scale musicals for young people without the full-scale stress and budget.”

The set is a result of artistic recycling from other Davidson Community Player productions and creative budgeting.

“From a labor standpoint, we just didn’t have the manpower to construct three distinct sets,” Ohlman-Roberge said. The last three productions in Community Players’ 2010 season required that effort.

“Once On This Island Jr.” employs nearly non-stop song and dance to tell the story of Ti Moune, played by KC Roberge, a peasant girl who rescues and falls in love with wealthy Daniel, played by Nathaneal Foss. When Daniel is returned to his people, the gods of Earth, Water, Love and Death guide Ti Moune on a journey of love and hatred.

“It’s a tale of prejudice, of what happens when we forget that at heart, we’re really all the same,” Ohlman-Roberge said.

Want to go?
“Once On This Island Jr.” will be performed at the Armour Street Theatre, 307 Armour St., Davidson, Nov. 13, 14 and 21 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 20 at 4 p.m. Tickets cost $9 for the show, which the theater recommends for children 6 and older. Get more information online at www.davidsoncommunityplayers.org, or call 704-892-7953.

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