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Weeks of rehearsals pay off starting Friday for children in “Little Mermaid Jr.”

PLANT CITY – Desiree Dunphy said it was only natural that her 18-year-old daughter Charizma wanted to take part in a children’s theater musical that opens Friday.

The 18-year-old is an experienced performer who has been on stage many times, Dunphy said. What surprised her was that her 6-year-old son Darius wanted to join his older sister in “Little Mermaid Jr.”

“This is his first show and he’s loved it from the start,” she said. “I believe this is going to be his thing.”

The two siblings are among a cast of 50 children who will present an adaption of the Disney classic at Plant City Entertainment’s theater at 101 N. Thomas St.

The show is being sponsored by Sunshine Theater Co. of Brandon and the community theater.

Director Jonathan Douglas said the performers, all 18 years old or younger, have been practicing for 10 weeks. They have various levels of experience, with older children often helping younger children with their parts.

“We have a lot of first timers on stage,” said Douglas, who said Sunshine Theater accepts all youngsters, regardless of their ability, as long as they commit to the rehearsal schedule.

The play’s musical story line features a journey under the sea with Ariel and her aquatic friends. Douglas said this is the second time that Sunshine Theater has performed in Plant City.

Last summer, the theater presented an adaption of “Aladdin,” to large audiences. The show was so well received that the theater expanded the number of performances for “Little Mermaid Jr.”

Douglas said the Sunshine Theater has been in operation for two years but he has four decades of experience in children’s theater.

For more information on the show, contact Douglas at [email protected]

If you go

What: “Little Mermaid Jr.”

Where: Plant City Entertainment theater, 101 N. Thomas St.

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 4 p.m. Sunday; 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Aug. 16; and 4 p.m. Aug. 17

Cost: $10 for theater members, $12 for seniors and students through 12th grade and $14 for general admission; tickets available at the door starting an hour prior to each performance and online using a credit card via PayPal at www.pceshows.com.

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