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ART BEAT: Disney's 'The Little Mermaid Jr.' swims into Suwanee for annual fundraiser

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Special Photo Local students perform in "The Little Mermaid Jr." to raise money for the Broadway in the Park.

A talented cast and crew of over 75 individuals and area students will celebrate the arts in Suwanee with "The Little Mermaid Jr." on July 27 and 28 in Suwanee's Town Center Park. The shows will represent Suwanee Performing Arts' annual performance and fundraiser, Broadway in the Park.

Performances will be at 7 p.m. both evenings. Admission is free, but donations are welcomed and encouraged and visitors are urged to come early to claim their seats near the front of the stage. Just to get everyone in the proper mood, there is also a Caribbean Carnival from 4 to 7 p.m. which will feature vendors and activities similar to a port for cruise ships. The nautical night begins with a one-act play titled "Filligan's Island." "Little Mermaid Jr." begins immediately after this short take on "Gilligan's Island."

"Little Mermaid Jr." is a family-friendly, child-pleasing production. It will transport the audience to a magical kingdom below the waves, which beautiful mermaid Ariel wishes to leave to go experience the rest of the world for herself. The familiar story features Erin Caruso as Ariel, Jonathan McCravy as her father King Triton, Justin Hermosilla as Prince Eric and Rachel Wagner as the evil sea witch Ursula.

"Last year, Bernie (Berneta Bock David) and I heard whispers that Mermaid was going to be available for amateur licensing and we knew that if this was the case we had our BIP show for the summer," said Patty Etherton, SPA founder and creative director. "'Mermaid' is colorful, fun and so many people are familiar with the show that attendees will be able to sing along, making the experience even more memorable."

It won't be only the show that creates an experience to remember. Bock David of SPA is excited about the carnival.

"We are especially excited to bring a pre-show Caribbean Carnival from 4 to 7," she said."Suwanee Town Center Park will be transformed into an island market place much like when you get off a cruise ship.Steel drum music, food, artwork as well as Flounders' playground with inflatables, slides, face painting and more ... will put us in the island mood."

Costumes and sets for "Mermaid" are also special.

"The creation of sets and costumes for Disney's 'Little Mermaid' has been a wonderful challenge," Bock said."Creating complete scenes both underwater and on land has our imaginations in overdrive. Creating a human/octopus was especially fun."

Young ones can also meet Ariel and her friends in special "Under the Sea" tea parties at 10:30 a.m. on the Town Center stage on both July 27 and 28. The event is perfect for ages 3-6 and Scuttle (played by Elise Etherton) will narrate as characters give a mini musical performance for the children. This event does require purchasing a $25 ticket per child in advance.

For tickets to these tea parties and for more information about the MOSH pit seating fundraiser (Most Outrageous Seats in the House), call 678-482-6333 or visit www.suwaneeperformingarts.com.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.