Tue, Jan 23, 2024 2:00 PM

Making a splash on stage


William Woodworth

For Alison Dight and Amy Potts, sharing their passion for performing arts with young Marlburians is something they treasure.

Three years ago, the Summer Intensive started as a “crazy” idea of Alison’s for an American style crash-course, two-week theatre camp completed by performing at the ASB Theatre – but without the camping.

And director and choreographer respectively of The Little Mermaid Jr say their third production promises to be the best yet.

“We wanted kids who don’t do performing arts during the school year to perform something creative that they can sink their teeth into in the summer holidays,” says Alison.

“We pack so much in with Amy’s stage choreography and ensemble songs during mornings, and then working with our older actors on the dialogue in the afternoons once the little ones go home.”

“Now, first programme kids who started as ensemble grow into lead roles or as our assistants so their step up during the last few shows has been incredible.”

Choreographer Amy Potts and Director Alison Dight.

The production has seen a step up in children with a jump from 33 kids from the first programme in 2022 to 57 this year, with half being returnees from one of the previous two productions, and increases in boys, younger children, and parent helpers.

“Kids started asking me about what this year’s Summer Intensive production was going to be as soon as last year’s finished,” Alison laughs.

Choreographer and acrobatics teacher Amy approached the Summer Intensive open mindedly - crafting the production’s dance numbers.

“Funnily enough I’ve actually never seen a Little Mermaid film so I’m approaching it by listening to the music and lyrics,” she says.

“Approaching the show’s dances as blank canvases and match what story that the songs are telling with unique choreography makes it more fun for everyone.”

Alice Kingi, Chiara Erickstad-Smart and Liliani Tau'alupe-Vaipulu (L/R) front and centre for a rehearsal performance of "Under the Sea".

“I sing, dance and perform l throughout the year, but musicals are different doing it all at once”, says Alice Kingi, who plays Flounder.

“I’m especially excited to perform ‘She’s in Love’ on the big stage”.

Liliani Tau’alupe-Vaipulu has taken a major step up this year after and is set to star as Princess Ariel.

“It has been a bit stressful learning the lines, but it’s been a really fun challenge,” she says.

“I’m more confident on stage and learning the new dances than I was for my first production, but I am still a little nervous for the show.”

“The show means I’m making friends, trying something new, and helping kids of all ages with my dance experience,” says Chiara Erickstad-Smart, staring as Sebastian.

Alice Kingi, Liliani Tau'alupe-Vaipulu, and Chiara Erickstad-Smart

Alison and Amy believe the stage skills and confidence actors have developed have them feeling confident too with the curtain set to drop Friday.

And if rehearsals are anything to go by, the show promises to showcase what Marlborough’s wealth of youthful performing talent can achieve in two weeks.

The Little Mermaid Jr performs under the bright lights of the ASB Theatre stage on Friday 26 January 2024 at 2.00pm and 6.30pm,


Alison and Amy would like to thank Summer Intensive supporters Marlborough Tour Company, Fulton Foundation and Wairau Pharmacy for their support.

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