On April 21 and 22, Helix Charter High School’s Super Scotties program teamed up with La Mesa Arts Academy and a local theater program, Arms Wide Open, to put on a star-studded performance of, “The Little Mermaid, Jr.”
Directed by Chris Rubio and led by LMAAC principal Beth Thomas, the musical put the spotlight on students with varying special needs. The cast put on a total of four performances, including one with an audience comprised entirely of LMAAC students.
According to their website, Arms Wide Open is a “non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of children and adults with special needs by…creating opportunities for recreation and participation in the arts.” The program, based out of San Diego, has been working with special needs programs around the county since 2008. It was founded by the owners of Arts in Motion, an El Cajon dance studio.
In total, 12 Super Scotties found themselves on stage in April, ready to showcase their talents to the world. And, they delivered.
From the costumes to musical numbers, “The Little Mermaid, Jr.” was an unforgettable experience.
Kimberly Fleming, director and teacher of the Super Scotties program at Helix, greatly expressed the pride she felt in her students for taking steps out of their comfort zone. Ms. Fleming especially took note of the excitement the students felt in being able to “show themselves and their parents that they could actually [perform] and say their lines at the right times.”
Ella Nelson, a peer mentor for the Super Scotties, gushed that “being on stage with them and getting to see them come to life for everyone was an honor and a pleasure…the pride they had for themselves was overwhelmingly touching.”
For many of Helix’s new-found actors and actresses, performing on stage was something they had never done before, but they were eager to embrace the new opportunities.
“My favorite was just having fun and seeing the kids learn [the] dances,” said peer mentor Autumn Martinez. “It’s very rewarding seeing everything coming together.”
Many of the students had participated in Arms Wide Open’s take on “Beauty and the Beast” last year, and expressed profound interest and excitement that led them to roles in “The Little Mermaid, Jr.”
The production was well-organized and fun to watch. Knowing the effort and passion that many of the performers put into this show was inspiring. I’m sure I would not be the only audience member to claim it was a Saturday night well-spent.
If you missed this year’s star-studded performance, don’t worry- Ms. Fleming hopes to “work with LMAAC” next year to give our Super Scotties even more chances to shine.