Little Hawks in the Little Mermaid

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For the past few months, student actors from across Iowa City have been feverishly preparing their audition material for the upcoming teen musical at City Circle Acting Company, The Little Mermaid.  Almost 100 aspiring performers auditioned in late March, with City High students making up one fourth of the final cast of 40 actors, ready to devote their full time to floating under the sea.

City Circle productions are notoriously difficult to get into. Casting is usually minimal and the bar for experience is set extremely high, with actor Nysio Poulakos ‘17 describing past shows as “incredible due to the high caliber of performers.”  However, this year, the sheer mass of talent auditioning was incomparable to years in the past, leading to three Little Hawk actors scoring leads in the show — including Veronica Abreu ‘19, who will be playing the lead role of Ariel.

“I found out my part before I saw the entire cast list and my first reaction was shock and I screamed because I was so excited,” Abreu said. “As I saw the other cast members my excitement grew because I got to see who I’d be working with and I could feel how good the cast [would] be.”

I remember feeling like my heart would pound out of my chest when I got up to sing in front of everyone.”

— Abreu

Abreu will be starring alongside fellow Little Hawk actor Kyle Irish-Gorvin ‘17, who was cast as Prince Eric.

This production of The Little Mermaid means a lot for the City High Drama Department and its student performers, as it will be carrying on City High’s streak of leading roles in City Circle, and introducing the community theater scene to the younger actors who will dominate the stage in years to come.

“I’m so proud of all the City students cast in lead roles, because it’s a big deal to get into a City Circle production, let alone as a lead,” Lauren Rude ‘20 remarked. “I think it truly proves what a great group of students we have in the performing arts this year and going forward.”  

Rude has participated in City Circle shows in the past, and while she did not audition for The Little Mermaid, she will be assisting the show through stage management.

“I really enjoy the quality of [City Circle] shows,” Lindy Rublaitus ‘19 commented. “Not just what is happening on stage, but what is happening backstage.” Rublaitus continued, “You can tell by watching this group of actors that they are a close knit community.”

The amount of creative capacity in this specific batch of actors alarmed Little Mermaid’s director, Ian Zahren, who claims it is the hardest show he’s ever cast.  Everyone was taken aback by the aptitude of each person who got a callback, and anxiety levels were through the roof as actors soaked in the competition.

“The callbacks were very stressful,” Jessie Shaw ‘17 recalled. “All of my theatre friends were there, but there was so much talent in the room!  It was terrifying!  It definitely made me want to try harder because I had more people to impress but I also wanted to impress the director and myself.”  Shaw was cast in the ensemble and is a principle dancer.

The Little Hawks agreed, however, that it was a blessing rather than a curse to be pitched against such competition.  Everyone retained a positive attitude and took the pressure in stride.  Instead of a brick wall, the challenges became an uplifting empowerment.

“The group of people at callbacks was by far the most talented group of people I have ever auditioned with,” said Poulakos. “Everyone there had something unique about them, and the talent was off the charts.  It was an honor watching everyone audition as well as performing in front of such a supportive group of people.”  Poulakos, cast as Ariel’s father, King Triton, is also starring in City High’s Guys and Dolls as Nathan Detroit.  This is his third year in a row involved with City Circle.

Theatre is often a business full of ups and downs, but when the group lifts each other up and inspires everyone else to continue with their strongest performance, individual wins become team wins.

“This show is going to be phenomenal with so many bright young actors and actresses showing how amazing they are,” Perez affirmed. “It is a show you won’t want to miss!”