WHEN artistic director Daniel Stoddart learned the rights to Disney's The Little Mermaid Jr could soon become available, he phoned the licensee every Monday morning for six months.
When he finally got the nod, Stoddart and his wife used $150,000 of their own money to bid for the rights.
Their commitment and determination paid off and Stoddart's company, the Hunter Regional Drama School, was awarded the privilege of staging the first production of The Little Mermaid Jr in Australia.
Stoddart brings a wealth of experience to the production, and is best known for his starring and directing roles in the Ultra Swing Lounge.
After holding auditions earlier this year, Stoddart said he was pleased with the progress of his young cast, which is made up of 50 young singers and dancers aged between nine and 19.
Merewether student Cassidy Lobb, aged 15, will play the role of Alana, one of Ariel's sisters and will perform the song She's In Love.
"It's such an amazing song and the choreography given to me is amazing," she said.
Cassidy said the cast spent the July school holidays rehearsing and fine-tuning their parts.
With lavish mermaid tails and Heelys (shoes with in-built wheels) worn on stage, the cast had a lot to master, she said.
"Everyone is putting in a lot of hard work and effort to bring everything together," Cassidy said.
The Hunter Regional Drama School has also been invited to perform The Little Mermaid Jr at the annual Junior Theatre Festival held in Atlanta in the United States in January - the first Australian company to be invited to perform.
■ The Little Mermaid Jr is on for five shows at the Civic Theatre from Thursday, October 9, until Saturday, October 11. For tickets go to ticketek.com.au or phone 4929 1977.