Friendships help Northern Virginia Players during 'Little Mermaid' production
January 24, 2013
The Northern Virginia Players wowed audiences and raised money for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts Jan. 11-12 and Friday and Saturday during performances of "The Little Mermaid, Jr." at the Family Worship Center in Springfield, Va.
The shows were performed by two completely separate casts, who performed a total of six shows the past two weekends, and consisted of 58 total actors, ages 8-18, with nearly half the cast made up of local military children.
"They were so amazing," said Julia Glaccum who portrayed Ursula during the second weekend of shows. "Even if there were a few small mistakes, everyone was still smiling and having a good time."
Karinna Johnston portrayed Ariel during the opening weekend of production and is happy with the feedback her group got from the audience.
"I'm very happy with how things turned out," Johnston said. "We received positive feedback from the audience, so I'd say this was a success."
NVP will donate part of the first weekend's proceeds to a Hurricane Sandy relief effort. The estimated donation will be around $500.
"We had our biggest opening night on (Jan. 11)," said Ann Eul, NVP co-director. "So, we are happy we are going to be able to put out a sizeable donation."
Glaccum, Johnston and several other cast members are happy their efforts can help such an admirable cause.
"It makes me feel really good," said Emily Webb, a Woodbridge, Va. resident, who portrayed Carlotta during the opening weekend of shows. "All those families who lost their homes or anything else; it makes me happy we can help them so they can have a better future."
Eul said she is impressed with how well the two casts performed the play.
"They were fabulous," said Eul. "They've really pulled together and helped one another out."
Both casts have been rehearsing nine hours a week since October to prepare for the live performances. Many of the children in the two casts are home-schooled and they all have formed friendships during the rehearsals. Those new friendships helped overcome small adversities during the performances, from cast members being sick to set issues.
"That definitely made this show a lot easier," said Johnston. "Even though some people got cranky with each other during the show, our friendship allowed us to remain calm and overcome those issues."
"When you're on stage and you have those connections, if someone makes a mistake we're able to communicate without saying anything," said Glaccum. "We're able to do that because we know what you are thinking."
Kate Wittig is also a co-director with NVP and is impressed with how well the children handled the various challenges during the shows.
"Some of the cast has three or four costume changes and they helped one another through that, reminding each other who is wearing which costume," said Wittig. "They become a team."
Sarah Smith portrayed Ursula during the first weekend of shows, and feels the friendship amongst the casts made everyone more comfortable going on stage.
"Instead of just being strangers, you are friends with them," Smith said. "You react better to one another, and it's easier to perform your character because you have a relationship with that person."
The camaraderie within the casts also helped those who forgot a line or missed their cue to speak.
"We know if we mess up, we won't be embarrassed or have someone think they're acting weird," said Webb. "We just go out there, have fun and not worry about anything."
Having separate casts made up of young children can lead to friendly competition, but this group didn't put any extra pressure on themselves, according to Glaccum.
"Everyone is different in their own way," said Glaccum. "The way we act, the way we sing. So, it's not like we're trying to be one another because we all have our own versions of the characters. So, we've practiced it so much in our own way, it's easier to be able to follow the first cast."