Kearney, Mo., November 8, 2023: There is something fishy going on at Kearney High School.
KHS Theatre will be presenting its fall production, the musical “The Little Mermaid,” on Nov. 15-18 in the school auditorium. Performances will begin daily at 7 p.m. in addition to a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, Nov. 18. Tickets are available online at bit.ly/khs-little-mermaid.
“The Little Mermaid” is a theatrical version of a popular 1989 Disney animated film. The movie was itself a retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s story of a mermaid princess who falls fatefully in love with a human.
English Language Arts and Theatre sponsor Haley Kernes is directing the production, which features performances and tech support from about 70 students who have worked hard for two months to prepare for the show’s debut.
Ms. Kernes was impressed with the level of commitment and perseverance displayed by the students throughout the production. She credited her actors and crew for supporting each other.
“The best thing about being involved in theatre at KHS is the community that is embedded within it,” Kernes said. “Students are spending so much time with one another that it truly does become a family, and seeing them take care of one another is very heartwarming.”
The production cast includes Jolie Conner as Ariel, Ronin Roddy as Prince Eric, Ella Conway as Ursula, Archer Schmidt as Sebastian and Ryan Bowles as King Triton, plus an impressive number of support actors and members of the ensemble.
The KHS production of “The Little Mermaid” is the perfect opportunity for an entire family to enjoy an evening out, according to Ms. Conner, who added that theatre is a labor of love.
“This is a classic Disney production with comedy – particularly sarcasm – and fun, awesome, lively music. It’s also got a love story that’s so beautiful. I think that it can entertain just about anybody,” Conner said. “Theatre is such a beautiful art. We put so much work into what we do and so much time. People should really just come see what it’s all about.”
Ms. Conway commands the stage as she embodies the show’s main villain. She discovered sources of strength and confidence when she started working on KHS Theatre productions about two years ago.
“It always pushes me outside of my comfort zone,” Conway said. “No matter how much you do musical theatre, you never get completely comfortable, which I think is a good thing. It pushes me to always get better. It gives me more confidence in myself and being able to present myself well.”
Self-assurance and grit are just a couple of the many hard and soft skills that students can acquire when they participate in KHS Theatre productions, according to Kernes. Putting on a show means constantly having to overcome your fears and solve problems.
“There are so many opportunities for growth and real-world learning,” she said. “The skills that students are learning go beyond performance, but also include technical and hands-on skills. For me, seeing students have that ‘light bulb’ moment and then being proud of themselves makes everything worth it. Those are the best moments! Theatre at KHS provides great opportunities for all students from all different levels and skill sets.”
“The Little Mermaid” will be the first big KHS Theatre production in the recently upgraded auditorium. The improvements include new seating, carpeting and paint, plus state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems. This work was funded by the Proposition B capital improvement bond approved by Kearney School District voters in April of 2022.