RANDOLPH, NJ- Randolph Middle School students went “under the sea” last weekend, transforming the school auditorium into a dazzling array of colors for their production of The Little Mermaid, a Disney classic and an audience hit.
The musical was performed under the direction of RMS Social Studies teacher Richard Sackerman. This year marked a decades worth of productions under Sackerman; this production being rightfully so, as one of the most well-received and memorable musicals RMS has performed. (Video slideshow at end of story)
The timeless Disney princess Ariel was played by eighth grader Elena Rossetti, whose moving rendition of "Part of Your World" was one of the highlights of the show.
Rossetti reflected on her experience, stating, “I played Ariel, and I absolutely loved being in this play. I’ve met so many friends and learned so much this year. My favorite moments were the times right before a show starts, because it’s so exciting and it’s a time that you really bond with the whole cast.”
The musical tells the story of Ariel, a young Mermaid girl, figuring out her identity and how that determines her role in her world, all while encountering life changes events.
This theme is clearly a perfect selection for a middle school play, where students are going through the same experiences of figuring out who they are within their own world. It was no wonder why the story was executed so well, especially given the talented cast depicted in the story.
The show was a sold-out hit thanks to its selection by Sackerman, the highly praised director behind a decade of highly praised RMS musicals. He is admired by professionals and adored by students. Students applaud his expertise and mentorship that fueled both their artistic and personal growth throughout this process.
Eighth grader Gia Esposito (Chef Louis), one of three play captains, explained, “Without this experience I don't know where I would be in terms of performing. I have met so many friends, and got to express my passion of singing, dancing, and acting. A director like Mr. Sackerman will work with you and make you feel welcome as soon as you show up to your first practice. He puts so much time and effort into every show.
Esposito added,"The laughs, jokes, late rehearsals, tears, and memories have built us to be one big family that I will cherish forever."
Although each musical number was meticulously planned and executed, there is usually a favorite to perform by any cast. This year, it seemed to be the big chorus numbers.
"Under the sea", which brought a packed stage of students dressed as fish and other sea creatures, and "Poor unfortunate souls", sung with a powerful voice by eighth grader Olivia Traub, ( who played the sea witch Ursula ) were two of the bigger numbers. Ursula's two eel sidekicks, played by eighth graders Chiara Ricupero and Olivia Howell, were a perfect compliment to the sea witch.
Play captain and eighth grader Jenna Manderioli (who played Ariel's oldest sister Adella ) explained, “The Little Mermaid is such a well-known show, the songs still haven’t left my head. My favorite scene would have to be the “finale” because it’s an inspiring song and is also a happy and colorful number.”
Manderioli added, “We all put so much time and effort into this performance, which would not have been possible without the leadership and support of Mr. Sackerman. Being in the play the past three years was an amazing experience that I will never forget. It is a great program for anyone interested in acting, singing or dancing.”
The entire cast worked relentlessly throughout the five month period prior to the actual performances. Of course, there was much to plan including costumes, choreography, and set design. Students and faculty all worked together to accomplish the goal of putting on a great performance for the audience.
RMS teacher Luke Mason led the student stage crew, all of whom were efficient and instrumental to the cast, moving and preparing props and sets for each changing scene.
This year, there was a buzz throughout the audience of each show in reference to the costumes, which were creative, elaborate, and filled with an incredible amount of color. The costumes, combined with the set design (created by RMS teacher James Dixon) and backdrops, created a visual wonderland that left the crowd amazed.
One spectator, a voice instructor who came to watch two of her students, commented, “I have been to many middle school plays, and I have never seen a production as good as this at this age level.”
The musical is an outlet for students to be involved in something much bigger than themselves, where they create a sort of artistic community within RMS. It is a great way for them to make friends as well as further pursue their interests and help them improve their skills. This community is widely talked about by kids who have done the musical and is cherished dearly.
Eighth grader Jenna Bachrach, who was also a play captain, played Ariel’s sister Aquata. Bachrach commented, “I will remember every part of the experience forever and I am so sad to be leaving the RMS stage. The friends I have made are truly special to me...The last thing I told the cast was to not be sad that it was over, but to be happy that it happened. I know I will remember it forever.”
King Triton, Ariel's father, was played by eighth grader Josh Cohen, who echoed the same sentiments, adding, “All the kids are extremely kind and talented, and you build such wonderful friendships that will last a lifetime. During my two years in the show, Mr. Sackerman, Mrs. Hyziak, and Mrs. Pariseau have made me a better actor, singer, and dancer, and always push me to be the best I can be. I will never forget this unbelievable experience.”
The RMS musical will surely back again for another annual performance next year, so stick around and see what is in store for these talented group of students.