Summer school under the sea: CVU students present ‘Little Mermaid’

Photo by Madeline Hughes
Elyse Martin-Smith plays Ariel. Oscar Williams and Ray Lindsley are searching the sea for her voice in the distance.


For the past two summers rising juniors, seniors and Champlain Valley Union theater alumni volunteer their time to induct incoming freshmen and sophomores to CVU’s theater department.

This year, students are bringing audiences under the sea to experience “The Little Mermaid.”

Photo by Madeline Hughes
Avery Smith plays Scuttle. Moira Buxton and Maya Phelan dance alongside him as he sings about finding the dinglehopper under the sea.

The summer theater program is “to welcome people into the performing arts family, help people make friends and help them get to know part of the building,” said Benjamin Recchia, artistic director. He is a Charlotte CVU graduate in his junior year at University of Vermont.

Having directed shows at Charlotte Central School when Recchia was attending CVU, he translated his experience and charisma to continue directing shows at CVU with the help of family and friends, said Carl Recchia, Benjamin’s father and CVU’s choral director.

Since starting last year, the summer program has helped bring in over a dozen students to the music and theater programs at CVU, Carl Recchia said.

Cast member Kennedy Hawkins said had just moved to the area from Texas a few weeks before rehearsals started. “I’ve made new friends, that’s pretty cool,” he said.

Two of the most important parts of the show are ingrained in the set design. Blue and white streamers create a circus-tent-like atmosphere, because Recchia sees the circus as a place where people are accepted for themselves, and the set is decorated with recycled materials to note the ocean trash problem, Carl Recchia said.

Before curtains rise Friday night the thespians worked from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week for four weeks.

“It’s pretty much non-stop, except for lunch and two snack breaks,” student Abby Lord said.

Shows are at CVU Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $9 for adults and $7 for students and seniors. They can be purchased at the door and online at

Photo by Madeline Hughes
Moira Buxton plays Ursala. Maya Phelan and Rylee Masson are the newest souls for her collection.

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