April 24th, 2024

Under the sea: St. Mary’s students dive into Finding Nemo Jr. performance

By BRENDAN MILLER on March 6, 2024.

Elias Cairns (centre) and Madalyn Cadwallader (left of centre) join fellow St. Mary's middle school students to rehearse Disney's Finding Nemo JR. at the Esplanade theatre Tuesday.--NEWS PHOTO BRENDAN MILLER

bmiller@medicinehatnews.com

Performing arts students from St. Mary’s middle school are set to make a splash in their upcoming musical production of Disney’s Finding Nemo Jr., running this week at the Esplanade theatre.

Using puppets and props, students will tell the well-known tale of Marlon, a clownfish, and his friend Dory, a blue tang, as they search for his missing son Nemo, and encounter a variety of other ocean creatures along the way.

Since September, more than 50 performing arts students and more than 60 support staff and students have been working hard researching their roles, making costumes and props, as well as learning songs in preparation for opening night.

“They’ve put in so much work,” says Kayla Lukacs, drama teacher. “So they totally deserve it and to have fun. The staff has put in so much work as well, not just myself, there’s all these people behind the scenes, and I couldn’t have done any of this without them.”

Beginning today the cast will be performing for other students in both the public and Catholic school divisions throughout the week leading up to two community performances on Friday and Saturday.

Grade 7 student Madalyn Cadwallader told the News she is excited to play Nemo in her first performance with St. Mary’s. Cadwallader says she can relate to the curious nature of Nemo.

“He’s like a very curious guy and I guess I am, too,” says Cadwallader. “We are working really hard, like it’s been about four months and it’s just so fun.

For Grade 9 student Elias Cairns, who plays both Professor Ray and Bruce, performing in Finding Nemo Jr. is a bitter-sweet moment as it will be his last play with St. Mary’s.

Cairns also performed in St. Mary’s past productions Disney’s Frozen and Matilda.

“It’s quite sad,” says Cairns. “I would actually say I’m already kind of missing it, even though I’ve not even done this performance. It’s weird to be moving out of this school and moving out of this stage in life.”

However, Cairns says playing the “villain role” of Bruce, a shark, has allowed him to step out of his comfort zone and try something new.

“He’s trying to convince them that he’s not a bad guy,” says Cairns, “And then what happens is he flips on them and tries to eat Marlin and Dory, So it’s fun and it’s a little interesting.”

The student cast will be dressed like different fish and other animals that can be found in the deep sea.

Several students are utilizing large puppets of characters like Nemo and Marlon that were all hand made by Lukacs and the schools art teacher Christina Remeikis.

“They’re mostly paper mache,” says Lukacs. “I had this idea where I was like, ‘they should be holding puppets,’ let’s challenge our kids and do something different.

“The painting on the puppets took forever and we wanted them to look similar to the characters because that’s so fun.”

Another unique aspect to the play is its underwater setting, meaning students have to add more “flow” to their performance.

“Reminding yourself you’re in the ocean, you have to act like you’re an ocean creature,” explains Cairns. “which doesn’t mean putting on like a girly accent, it means like, making sure your movements are flowy.”

Tickets for Finding Nemo Jr. can be purchased online at tixx.ca with performances at 7 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday.

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