Two years and several postponements later, Arts of the Albemarle’s Center Players’ production of “The Little Mermaid Jr.” has finally arrived.

“The Little Mermaid Jr.” opened Friday evening in AoA’s Maguire Theater and continues performances through the weekend, with additional performances set for next weekend.

The children’s theater group’s production of the musical, which is based on the 1989 Disney movie, “The Little Mermaid,” was supposed to happen two years ago but was postponed several times because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re very excited,” said Colleen Brown-McKinley, who is directing the show.

The children in the show range from ages 8 to 18 and worked hard the last two years to prepare for Friday’s opening night, she said.

“We’re so pleased they are still with us,” Brown-McKinley said, referring to the number of original cast members who remained with the show despite the postponements.

“They’ve all worked very hard and given us everything they’ve got,” she said, adding some of the original cast members have graduated from high school.

The “Little Mermaid Jr.” is a condensed version of “The Little Mermaid” that was customized for children and community theaters, according to Brown-McKinley. The musical features a sea-going prince named Eric, who fell overboard during an ocean storm and is rescued by the mermaid Ariel. Ariel makes a deal with the sea witch Ursula to take on a human form, but with a catch, of course.


Playing the role of Ariel is Audreyrose Gehricke, with Emily Lee standing in as Gehricke’s understudy. Mattie Knight plays the role of Prince Eric and Ursula is performed by Kirra Jones.

“She’s going to bring the house down,” Laurie Edwards said of Jones. “She is fabulous.”

Edwards, the former director of Arts of the Albemarle, is assisting Brown-McKinley with the production.

Central to the story is Sebastian the Crab, who is played by Addi Whidbee.

The production’s colorful stage features a boat, a 12-foot-tall kelp tower and seahorse and different background scenes projected by video, plus other special effects.

“The technical aspects of the show are amazing,” said Brown-McKinley.

The Little Mermaid Jr. opened Friday in the Maguire Theater at Arts of the Albemarle’s The Center. Additional performances are scheduled for today at 7 p.m. and again on Sunday at 2 p.m. Showtimes are the same for performances set for Friday-Sunday, May 20-22.

Tickets are $16 per person or $55 for a four-person family special. To purchase tickets online, visit artsaoa.org/ticket-page and click on the “Tickets” link.