“The Little Mermaid” comes to life at Henry Elementary

When Nicole Paulino learned that “The Little Mermaid” had finally been adapted for the school play stage, she immediately had her choice for C.W. Henry Elementary School’s next musical performance.

“I jumped on it,” said Paulino, the school’s music teacher, of the Walt Disney classic.

By the second week of September, she had assembled a cast of about 40 students, many of whom had never been in a play before.

It was a real challenge.

“Along with new students to a cast comes all the obstacles in training them,” she said. “I mean, you have to start from scratch. They’ve never been on a stage.”

So, too, was handcrafting nearly all of the student costumes, which included creating a set of movable octopus tentacles for the role of Ursula.

But, after nearly three months of nearly five-day-a-week practices, the show is ready to go on. The first performance was held Thursday evening. Friday night will be the second and final show.

When interviewed Wednesday afternoon, the students were excited to light up the stage.

“We’re going to rock this show,” said Zyree Downing, a sixth grader who was cast as Grimsby.

Downing signed up for the highly-anticipated event almost on a whim. He’s glad he did.

“It’s kind of scary and fun at the same time,” said Downing. “Scary because we have a big show tomorrow and on Friday and tonight. But it’s fun because I get to hang out with my friends.”

Fellow sixth grader Dominique Swift, who will don all those tentacles as Ursula, was equally pleased with her decision to participate.

“I got to meet a lot of people that’s in the school that I don’t really talk to,” said Swift.

Paulino is excited too. She’s curious to see how many non-Henry attendees attend the show. She’s hoping for a lot.

“I want them to be invested and partner with us,” said Paulino. “A lot of the community in Mt. Airy send their kids to private school and we’re trying to preserve what we have here and the families that live in the neighborhood. Henry is a hidden gem,” she said.

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