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From Arlington Heights to ‘Under the Sea’

Students and adults transform stage for winter musical

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Deep  down under the sea, in the underwater world of crustaceans and talking fish, sea creatures and merfolk alike prepared to put on the performance of “The Little Mermaid” for the humans, but not without the help from key aspects that made the show possible.

Mr. Tony Calzaretta, the assistant director, described the transformation from the Saint Viator stage to underwater paradise as “an adaption coupled with the creativity from Mrs. Kate Costello, costumes through Mrs. Julie Reedy, imagination from aspects of the Disney and Broadway versions, as well as lighting and special effects.”

For instance, the costumes swimming across the stage helped transform the atmosphere into the depths of the ocean. For this particular production, costumes from previous shows were used to help the seagulls fly into character. Skirts were worn inside out to reveal the underwater appearance of the coral reef. Ursula’s costume glided its way across the stage with the help of a professional designer.

“Capturing the characteristics of her appearance really came to life to create an animated villain on stage,” said senior Laura Kuper who commented on Ursula’s costume.

The costumes were assembled by parent volunteers, many of whom  made pieces from scratch, including many mothers of cast members. Additionally, students helped in the organization and sewing of the wardrobe including junior Patti Miller, junior Amalia Sordo-Palacios, freshman Caitlin Saso and freshman Amy Leonard. One key aspect that particularly set this musical apart from previous productions was the rotation from principal leads having the majority of costume changes to ensemble characters having multiple changes.

Mr. Calzaretta said that  the excitement from students and actors over the production reveal from the beginning was especially unique this year since this is the first time “The Little Mermaid” swam into production at Saint Viator.

Also, both junior Maggie VanValkenburg and Kuper, who played counterparts as Ariel, said that energy splashed across the stage throughout the show. As Scuttle the seagull says, the “Positoovity” of the atmosphere was brought to life under the sea, especially enhancing the animation of characters to create an overall bubbly presentation.

Senior Kevin Goss, who played King Triton said makeup played a key role in submerging the audience into the underwater realm by commenting on its “intricate detail that enhances the overall feel of the production.”


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  • Junior Will Walberg, Sebastian. puts on a vocal performance for senior Kevin Goss, King Triton. Photo by Mary Peterson

  • Junior Bridget Dillon and sophomore Sophie Dominguez get ready for their first performance. Photo by Anthony Novak

  • Sophomore Olivia Augustine and seniors Emily Bremner and Sean Carey pose before their benefit performance. Photo by Anthony Novak

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“It is a family-friendly show that makes a more universal appeal through the scenery, sets and costumes that swam onto stage,” said senior Jeremy Yoder, who plays Sebastian. “A lot of times students think rehearsals might be boring or a huge time commitment, which can be true at times, but the whole atmosphere comes together to create a social aspect unlike anything else which allows the musical to wave into production.”

The bubbly aura of the aquatic performance was achieved through “setting built and maneuvered by the tech crew as well as the construction of a life-size realistic boat, combined with lights and an overall scenery to engage the audience’s oceanic imagination,” said Technical Director Mr. Michael Brankin.

Features including multiple boats, backdrops and a doubled kitchen and bedroom addition set the underwater stage for a swimming production. In conclusion, “The Little Mermaid” dove into success as sea creatures introduced part of their world to the Saint Viator theater and allowed all audience members to discover their inner mermaid.


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From Arlington Heights to ‘Under the Sea’