‘The Little Mermaid’ comes to Upsala

As an actor, it is important to tune into the character he or she is playing, said Melanie Cimenski of Royalton.

Normally that is not a problem for Cimenski. She’s an English and drama teacher and a drama coach and has acted for many years. However, in this year’s summer production in Upsala, “The Little Mermaid,” put on by the Upstage Players, she plays the character of Sebastian — a red crab with a Jamaican accent.

The cast of “The Little Mermaid” has spent countless hours in rehearsal in preparation for their shows at Upsala High School, July 21-24. Pictured are cast members, from left: Stephanita ZumBerge, Arlene Warga, Alex Thoms-Warzecha and Melanie Cimenski.

“It’s not a role like any other I’ve played,” she said.

Cimenski has practiced a Jamaican accent. So much so that sometimes she wonders how certain words she hears would sound in Jamaican.

“It’s a challenging role, but it’s a lot of fun,” she said.

The Little Mermaid is based on the Disney movie released in 1989. Many of the songs from the movie are featured in the musical, such as “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl.”

Additional songs not from the movie will be sung, as well.

The musical is directed by Dan Cheney, who is the drama adviser at Upsala High School. He’s worked in drama for more than 20 years.

“We have a very talented cast here,” he said.

About 49 cast members  have roles in the production and come from different cities, such as Upsala, Swanville, Little Falls, Royalton, Pierz and Holdingford.

Ariel the mermaid is played by Stephanita ZumBerge, 19, of Little Falls. She’s acted since she was about 2 in various community theaters.

When ZumBerge found out she was going to play Ariel, she was very excited.

I’ve never been a Disney princess before and now I can say I’m a princess,” she said.

But even though playing Ariel is a lot of fun, ZumBerge said the role doesn’t come without its challenges. During the second act, Ariel has traded her voice to the wicked sea witch Ursula for a pair of legs.

“It’s hard not to laugh or even make a sound during the second act, because funny things happen,” she said.

Another challenge is the fact that she will be wearing a pair of heelys — tennis shoes with a wheel in the heel.

“It’s a little scary since my sister, Natalicia, broke her left ankle on stage, wearing those,” ZumBerge said.

The handsome Disney prince, Eric, who falls in love with Ariel is played by Alex Thoms-Warzecha of Little Falls.

Warzecha said it’s been a fun and challenging role to play.

“Disney princes are perfect, impeccably good at dancing and can sing high notes. Being a base, who normally sings low, I’m having a hard time hitting the highest note,” he said.

Another challenge is to appear to be in love with Ariel. But it is a challenge he is not backing down from.

“Most people when they fall in love with someone don’t make a grand gesture about it. It’s more subtle, but on stage, you need to make a big deal about it,” Warzecha said.

Something Cimenski, ZumBerge and Warzecha all enjoy is the camaraderie acting together creates. New friends are made and old friendships are nurtured.

“It’s great to get together,” ZumBerge said.

Performances of the Little Mermaid are set for Friday, July 21, at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, July 22, at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, July 23, at 2 p.m. and Monday, July 24, at 7:30 p.m., all at Upsala High School.

  • Dan Cheney

    Evening shows are at 7:30.