The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

June 25, 2013

Performing arts campers to stage 'Little Mermaid Jr.'


JOHNSTOWN — Some summer camps discourage children from acting up, but that’s not the case at the Learning Lamp Performing Arts Academy in Richland Township.

Learning Lamp has partnered with the Richland Performing Arts Center to encourage nearly 50 students ages 11 to 18 to ham it up as they immerse themselves for nearly two weeks in the theater arts.

The program is designed to develop youngsters’ creativity through performing arts.

At the end of camp, students will showcase their work with the musical production of “Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.”

“The musical is the sole project during camp,” said Scott Miller, arts center executive director.

Camp runs from 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. All aspects of the theater – from Acting 101 to set building – are covered.

Camp opened June 17, and by the end of the day, all 47 participants auditioned for a part in the musical.

“On the first Tuesday of camp, roles were handed out and we immediately started rehearsal and learned blocking for the upcoming performance,” Miller said.

“We try to make this as professional as possible for each participant.”

Between rehearsals, students from area school districts, and some from as far away as Pittsburgh, are kept busy in classes to learn skill sets that are appropriate to each student’s experience level.

“We have discovered, from previous years of camps, that for those students who love the arts, they’re willing to put in all the hard work necessary to accomplish their goals,” Miller said.

“Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.” will be presented at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the arts center theater, One Academic Ave.

The musical is based on the 2008 Broadway production and the 1989 animated feature film.

“The show was adapted from the Broadway production, which was about three hours long,” Miller said. “In the adaptation, it has been shortened and revised to a G-rating, child-friendly show.”

Yet, none of the music has been excluded.

With well-known songs such as “Under the Sea,” “She’s in Love,” “Kiss the Girl,” “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” and the popular “Part of Your World,” the audience will be enchanted.

In a magical kingdom fathoms below the surface of the sea, the beautiful young mermaid Ariel (Lindsey Dona, Richland School District) longs to leave her ocean home to live in the human world above.

However, leaving her life under the sea means defying her father, King Triton (Nathan Knisley, Forest Hills). Ariel makes a deal with the evil sea witch Ursula (Kati Furlong, Keystone Oaks) and must convince Prince Eric (Lee Matthews, Richland) that she’s the girl with the enchanting voice.

But how can she convince him? With help from Sebastian (Ricky Stahl, Conemaugh Valley), Flounder (Eliza Crans, Westmont Hilltop), Scuttle (Harmony Eckroth, Richland) and all her other sea-faring friends, Ariel discovers the importance of following one’s heart.

Other cast members are Logan LaMaster (Greater Johnstown) as Grimsby, Julius Eckroth (Richland) as the Pilot and Chef Lois, and Emily Mantini (Richland) as Carlotta.

Ariel’s Mersisters will be played by Marcella Vargas (Florida High School) as Adella, Chloe Whorl (Westmont Hilltop) as Allana, Michaela Greble (Conemaugh Township Area) as Andrina, Lindsey Bost (Richland) as Aquata, Brittany Lybarger (Richland) as Arista, and Brittany Szczepanik (Richland) as Atina.

Princesses will be played by Madison Polacek (Richland), Emily Weaver (Northern Cambria), Cassidy Welsh (Windber Area), Megan Thomas (Richland), Gabrielle Dodson (Richland), and Mikayla Lint (Conemaugh Valley).

Gulls will be played by Madeline McKissick (Bishop McCort Catholic), Taylor Peruso (Bishop Carroll Catholic), Katlyn Yeager (Richland), and Alexis Buncich (Conemaugh Township Area).

Ursulas’ minions, Flotsam and Jetsam, will be played by Gabby Garcia and Raquel Luciano, both of Richland. The seahorses will be played by Mikita Hill-Cashaw (Greater Johnstown) and Emily Ponchione (United).

The lagoon animals, Merfolk, sea chorus, poor unfortunate souls, sea creatures, sailors and chefs are: Emily Demartino (Richland), Katie Fresch (Richland), Amanda Martella (Bishop McCort Catholic), Cassidy Polacek (Richland), Ethan Wingard (Richland), Madison Kist (Westmont Hilltop), Kaela Cardarella (Richland), Marissa Cardarella (Richland), Kira Furlong (Keystone Oaks), Jennifer Berkebile (Richland), Jayleana Lafollette (Windber Area), Kolby Degrange (Westmont Hilltop), Danielle McLaughlin (Richland), Josalyn McMillan (Westmont Hilltop), Bethany Jacobs (Richland), Baylee Roxby (Windber Area), and Alison Mattes (Richland).

Several students from the Pittsburgh area have returned to participate in the camp.

“They come each summer and stay with their grandparents who live in the area.” Miller said.

Tickets are $9 for adults and $8 for students and seniors.

Tickets may be charged by phone at 269-0300, online at or at the door.

Water work

What: “Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.”

Where: Richland High School Performing Arts Center, One Academic Ave. in Richland Township.

When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Tickets: By phone at 269-0300, online at or at the door.

Cost: $9 for adults and $8 for students and seniors.

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