Northwestern High School drama students are inviting everyone under the sea for two public performances of the musical "The Little Mermaid." Show times are 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17.

During rehearsal Wednesday, Feb. 13, colorful creatures spread out across the stage encouraging Prince Eric, played by Ted Kyle, to kiss Ariel, played by Lita Lind. Many of the costumed characters were elementary students.

In addition to the high school cast of 25 and crew of 20, this year's musical incorporates a live 12-student pit band and 30 Northwestern Elementary School students.

"We just started working with the kids yesterday and tomorrow is our first performance," said student director Clay Armstrong. The cast and crew planned to perform the play for students from Northwestern middle and elementary schools this week prior to the public performances.

Armstrong said merging the older and younger students went well.

"We've also got some really cool kids this year," he said. "They are so much fun to work with."

The story of "The Little Mermaid," popularized by the Disney movie, is family-friendly fare. Pat Luostari, who directs the musical with Mike Goodlet, said the school hasn't done a children's-centered musical in a while.

"It's their turn," she said.

The set isn't complex, but much of it was built by the crew. Everyday items were used to create sets for under the sea and on dry land.

"Swim noodles to dog chew toys will appear on stage in some guise," Luostari said.

Creative costuming can also been seen - jacket liners are used for seagull costumes, umbrellas transform students into jellyfish, a ray rides a skateboard and socks are transformed into beaks.

Audience members can hum along to their favorite tunes from the Disney movie as well as a number of new songs from the Broadway version.

Armstrong said the humor and passion the high school students bring to their roles really make this year's musical shine.

"They're all superb actors," he said, and the cast includes a lot of new, talented freshmen.

The biggest challenge has been getting everyone together for scenes, Armstrong said.

"This is one of the biggest shows we've had in a long time," the junior said.

Armstrong said he's enjoyed the entire rehearsal process, hanging out with castmates and the fun experiences they've had. Now, they're inviting the public to join in the fun "Under the Sea."

Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and children in 4K through grade 12. Tickets can be purchased at the Northwestern High School main office from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or at the door.