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A ‘Separate World’

Coal City students bring ‘Little Mermaid’ to life

Coal City High School student Jackie McCollough, playing Ursula the sea witch in Coal City Middle School’s production of The Little Mermaid.
Coal City High School student Jackie McCollough, playing Ursula the sea witch in Coal City Middle School’s production of The Little Mermaid.

COAL CITY — Students from the Coal City Middle School theater program are inviting the community to be a part of their world this weekend at Coal City High School.

Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders from the middle school and three students from Coal City High School will perform “The Little Mermaid JR.,” a musical, at the high school at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14.

The theater program began last year when the students performed “Walt Disney’s High School Musical” under the direction of Jack Micetich.

This year’s show is based on Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” but does have several twists in it, Micetich said. The rights to the full musical have not been released yet, but “The Little Mermaid JR.,” a show adapted for a younger cast, has been in the works for five weeks in Coal City.

“(The students) are all in a million different things,” Micetich said about the 30-or-so kids involved in the musical. “They don’t have the time to commit to a full-fledged two-and-a-half-hour musical. To give them an hour-and-a-half show, that’s something they can handle.”

Micetich and the students are hoping the crowd enjoys the “separate world” they have been creating since the second week of school.

“This is my first show doing a fantasy. It’s not real life. It’s a lot harder to costume. It’s a lot harder to light,” Micetich said. “It’s a lot harder to create that separate world.”

Though it may have been difficult to prepare, the students seem confident and excited for the weekend to come.

They were able to perform first for their peers from the middle school and younger students from the Early Childhood Center. The cast and crew were to open publicly Thursday evening.

“I’m looking forward to everyone that comes to see the show loving it,” said Jackie McCollough, a junior from Coal City High School, who plays the part of Ursula. “Jack Micetich says this all the time — he doesn’t want to put on a show where people say ‘Oh, that was nice.’ He wants people to come to the show and say ‘Wow, that was good.’”

Micetich was encouraged to cast several high school students for mentoring purposes in the play. Three high schoolers were chosen to play Ursula, King Triton and Sebastian.

McCollough said she has enjoyed getting to lead the younger actors and getting to perform a big part with a lot of personality.

In his second year performing in Micetich’s shows, eighth-grader Kyle Cowherd, also known as Prince Eric, said he came back because last year’s musical was fun, but didn’t expect to get a lead role.

“I was just coming back to be with one of my friends as a different part, but then I was surprised and I got it,” Cowherd said about being cast as Prince Eric. Cowherd played a supporting role in High School Musical.

“If you set your mind to it, you can do it, no matter what,” Cowherd said about what he has learned while working on The Little Mermaid. “I didn’t think I could do this at all, but coming here and having everyone help me, it’s been getting easier and easier every time.”

Prince Eric said he is most excited to see his director’s face this weekend when the cast and crew perform “The Little Mermaid JR.” perfectly.

Tickets are $5 per adult and $3 for children and students.

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