Skip to main content

South Salt Lake Journal

Cottonwood drama, music students work for months to bring ‘The Little Mermaid’ on stage

Mar 09, 2023 10:46AM ● By Andrew Hegewald

Cecilia Capps after her final performance as Ariel. (Andrew Hegewald/City Journals)

The saying “practice makes perfect” applies to school, sports, and, yes, shows as well. In this case, the drama department at Cottonwood High School had time for a lot of practice—eight months to be exact. Tryouts for “The Little Mermaid” took place in May 2022. Since then, show leads, ensemble members, stage crew and orchestra performers have put in countless hours. It all culminated with consecutive performances held Feb. 1-4, and an additional afternoon matinee performance on Feb. 4 for a total of five performances. 

Including the daytime performances earlier that week to approximately 4,000 students from different elementary schools and junior high schools along the Wasatch Front who were bussed in to see the performance, it was truly an exhausting experience.  

The students felt both relief and sadness when it all came to an end. Cottonwood High senior Cecilia “Cece” Capps, also known as Ariel for the past eight months, stated it best: “It’s bittersweet to have this all come to an end—I’m really going to miss it.” 

Not only the actors, but the musicians also pulled their weight to make it a success. “Performing that music was a ton of work. I don’t think I ever want to have to do that again,” said Kyle Nelson after Saturday’s closing performance. The senior is first violinist in the orchestra. 

The music was performed by the pit crew, consisting of the Cottonwood High Orchestra and Cottonwood High Jazz Band. Music teacher and orchestra director Amber Tuckness matched the music with the look, feel and tempo of the narrative throughout the famed Disney musical. Often times, the audience could hardly tell the performance was live—it sounded so spot on that it often felt more like a professionally recorded performance. 

The acting, singing and dancing truly brought the classic story of Prince Eric and Ariel’s love story to life, which bridges the land-based world with the aquatic world. Whether it was the noble King Triton huffing around the stage shirtless looking for his rebellious daughter, or the cunning Ursula belting her evil plans to rule the seas in powerful tones, or the fun-loving trio of Sebastian, Flounder and Scuttle trying to orchestrate Prince Eric to “go on and kiss the girl,” each lead contributed something special to this show.  

The costumes wowed the audience with their vibrant colors, flamboyant designs, and creative accents. One especially innovative tool was the use of glow-in-the-dark “heelies” that various marine life used on stage to get around quickly. These make-shift skates snap on to the heel of any shoe and did a fantastic job of mimicking fish, mermaids, and a variety of other sea creatures zooming through the water.

The show was led by Adam Wilkins, head of the drama department and artistic director at Cottonwood High School.

If you are interested in supporting Cottonwood High School’s performing arts, you can see upcoming performances of the group through a play called “Book of Will,” followed by a play called “The Trench.” Both of these performances will occur in the March to April timeframe. More info can be found online at