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Willmar, Minn., Middle School stage production opens tonight at senior high

Ben Lanning, left, as Prince Eric and Sophie Schmitz, right, as Ariel take a romantic boat ride in the Willmar Middle School’s production of “The Little Mermaid Jr.” The production opens tonight on the Willmar Senior High stage. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)

WILLMAR — Disney’s “The Little Mermaid Jr.” opens on stage tonight at the Willmar Senior High School Theater. It is being presented by the Willmar Middle School drama department. Show times are 7 p.m. today through Saturday and at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Advance tickets are available at Community Ed and Rec offices in the Jefferson Learning Center; any remaining tickets will be available at the door prior to each performance. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students K-12.

Out on the open sea, Prince Eric, played by Ben Lanning, pursues a mysterious voice despite the protests of his guardian, Grimsby, played by Ethan Panchyshyn. Far beneath the waves, the crab Sebastian, played by Brady Newcomer, has prepared a concert that features King Triton’s youngest child, Ariel, played by Sophie Schmitz, but she has snuck up to the surface with her best friend, Flounder, played by Cayle Hovland.

There, they learn about the human treasure she has found from the seagull Scuttle, played by Emily Skalla. Meanwhile, the sea witch Ursula, played by Carly Hulstein, and her lackey eels, Flotsam and Jetsam, played by Mady Brown and Laura Christianson, bemoan their exile and plot to regain power from Triton using Ariel as bait.

King Triton, played by Tanner Dahle, scolds Ariel for going to the surface and appoints Sebastian as her chaperone. Ariel retreats to her grotto and dreams of living on land. Upon discovering her collection of human objects, Sebastian extols the virtues of the ocean. Distracted by the shadow of a great ship, Ariel swims to the surface and finds the handsome Prince Eric on board. Suddenly, lightning strikes the ship, sending Prince Eric overboard. Ariel darts into action and brings the unconscious prince to shore. Her song wakes Prince Eric, but she has disappeared into the waves.

Back underwater, the Mersisters grill Flounder about Ariel’s odd behavior. Furious about Ariel’s contact with a human, King Triton destroys all her precious objects. Flotsam and Jetsam find Ariel in despair and lure her to the sea witch’s lair. Ursula offers to change Ariel into a human in exchange for her voice. Prince Eric must kiss her within three days or Ariel will turn back into a mermaid and become Ursula’s slave.

Other cast members include Savannah Anez, Kate Barrett-Murphy, Erica Boeyink, Hannah Bollig, Ethan Bos, David Cairns, Daniel Chan, Ashley Chavez, Olivia Corneil, Patricia Cruz, Kaitlin Danziesen, Andrew DeJong, Kya Egge, Alexis Engelkes, Madison Garnhardt, Ethan Haines, Cassidy Hanson, Erik Heen, Makenna Hogan, Kali Jensen, Matt Klundt, Jolissa Lara, Emilee Lowery, Jacob Odom, Bobby Perez, Maddie Peterson, Brenna Richter, Grace Sawyer, Rhiley Schmidt, Jessica Skindelien, Miranda Stueckrath, Josiah Swanson, Jordyn Swoboda, Jordan Tetzloff, Maddie Thaden and Cailey Titrud

Members of the sea chorus are Anisa Abdulahi, Deqa Abdulahi, Natalie Amon, Rebecca Anfinson, Hannah Arnold, Anna Backes, Staci Banks, Makenna Brouwer, Kayla Compeau, Emma Culshaw, Grace Culshaw, Karina Gonzalez, Jessa Hanson, Kristin Hormann, Amanda Keith, Hannah Larson, Brooklyn Lindblad, Roon Mahboub, Caitlin Maranell, Josie Muller, Avery Hovland, Lindsey Peters, Samantha Pina, Amberly Rieke, Kayla Rudie, Brielle Thorpe, Magen Vlaminck, Natalie Warne, Madie Wulff and Amanda Zuidema.

The musical directors are Travis Michelson and Melissa Wallestad. Kari Michelson is the choreographer and Steve Trochlil is the music director. Tracey Erickson and Dan Erickson are set designer/director and Carol Parker is the costume director.

The lights and sound director is Terry Brau and the light and sound techs are Alan Mangen, Spencer Enstad, Logan Blumhoeffer, Austin Bredeson, Becky Arnold, Hannah Huseby and Cameron Haugen.

Kate Clarke and Gabe Benson are the stage managers.