Willow Springs Goes Under the Sea
Donella DiPasquale, Theatre Arts teacher at Willow Springs Middle School (WSMS), said she chose “Disney’s The Little Mermaid JR.” as this year’s fall production because, “The kids love it!” She said she always chooses productions that allow many students to participate.
Any student at WSMS can participate in theater productions; it is not exclusive to the theater department. Students who choose to participate are definitely not pigeonholed. They take part in designing, sewing and creating costumes, creating sets, creating puppets, singing, dancing, acting, marketing, managing and so much more. DiPasquale said, “Instead of reading how to make theater out of a book, they are making theater.” She points out that every contribution they give to the production gives them buy-in. She said, “There is nothing like the feeling I get when students bring their family (to a performance) and point out ‘I made that fish. I made that coral.’”
Regarding teaching the students all elements of theater, DiPasquale, as way of explanation said she attended Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. She said, “This is my passion. That’s how I was raised. That’s how I thrive.” Rarely does WSMS purchase costumes, they typically upcycle. Some of the fish costumes were upcycled from homecoming dresses.
Characters in the musical, Flotsam and Jetsam, will be portrayed as puppets. DiPasquale references the Broadway musical Lion King character of Timon as a visual image as to how these parts will be portrayed. DiPasquale informed that for the first time in Lovejoy history, animated projections will be used for the sets for the entire show. She said, “I hope when the curtain opens, it’s a spectacle and that there are smiles and smiles.” She said the talent of the students is amazing.
Students involved in the production shared their thoughts on the upcoming show.
Sadie Mowrer is an eighth grader and plays the part of Scuttle. She is a teacher’s aide for DiPasquale and helps set up rehearsals. She said that it has surprised her how many students are in this show (52 actors, 20 tech). She said audience members will enjoy the comedy, singing and acting of the cast. She said, “The voices are on point and the acting is advanced for this age.”
Zoe Smithey is a seventh grader and juggles multiple roles. She is a princess, fish, chef, tentacle and gull. She helped design and make her costumes. She feels audience members will enjoy how funny the show is and that each fish and gull has its own personality (animalality?).
Clay Dietcks is an eighth grader who plays the part of Prince Eric. He has really enjoyed the devotion to the production shown by the entire cast. He said this is a turnaround from other productions and gives him hope as to what this will mean for the future of the program. He said the audience will enjoy the familiarity of the show, as well as the original spin the cast is creating.
Gianna Schwendel is a seventh grader and is the Public Relations/Marketing person. She said she knew she had a schedule conflict with the performance so chose to take a role where her absence wouldn’t affect the show. She has painted and helped create costumes and props. She also designed the promotional flyers and posters. She feels that the audience will enjoy the enthusiasm of the actors as well as the costumes, choreography and singing.
WSMS presents Disney’s Little Mermaid Nov. 1 – 3, 7 p.m. at Lovejoy High School (2350 Estates Pkwy, Allen). Tickets are on sale on the Lovejoy ISD website.
A Sing-a-long With Ariel Party will be held Oct. 20 from 9:30 a.m. – noon. Tickets are available at https://tinyurl.com/mermaidsingalong.