DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Ask anyone involved in theater and they will tell you that directing a live performance such as a play or musical is quite rewarding, but also very demanding. One has to select the cast, teach the fundamentals of stage performance, and mentor the young actors to perform at a high level. Furthermore, the director must coordinate with various others involved in the production, including the stage manager, costumer, stage hands, set designer, graphics designer, marketing and administration personnel, and the lighting and sound managers. In other words, to pull off a quality production requires a lot of organization, commitment, and passion.
Especially in a small community with only a limited amount of resources, this would be difficult enough for any adult to pull off, let alone a teenager. But that doesn’t seem to phase Mitchell Chasse, age 15, who has been preparing for months in producing Disney’s “The Little Mermaid Jr” schedule to open on Aug. 1, at the Center Theatre in Dover-Foxcroft. Not only is Mitchell the director and producer, he is also the primary costumer and set designer. He started making the costumes for the show eight months ago and has systematically worked on the props and costumes almost daily since. With a cast of 21 local and talented and excited young actors, he feels ready to pull off an amazing production.
Since age 9, Mitchell has had a passion for stage theater. Going to see local high school musicals in his early years, including “The Wiz” and “Seussical the Musical”, simply hooked him in, and he hasn’t looked back. He recruited as many of his friends as he could and started doing shows each summer in his play room at his parent’s home, performing in front of friends and family, slowly developing his skills in directing, singing, and acting. In those early years, he and his group performed shows such as “The Wizard of Oz”, “Annie”, and “Mary Poppins”, each year getting better.
Last summer, at the age of 14, he decided to take the leap and bring his efforts to the big stage, producing and directing “Aladdin Jr.” and his efforts paid off. More than 600 people attended three shows, with no one leaving disappointed. It was a huge success, and Mitchell Chasse Productions, his very own company, was off and running. Now, working off the success of his debut performance, he is ready to graduate further, bringing in more elaborate costuming and stage props to the production of “The Little Mermaid Jr”. With only a few days left until opening night, Mitchell admits he is getting nervous, but he also demonstrates a confidence not common in the world of theater, especially at his age.
Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” runs Aug. 1-4, with five performances scheduled: at 7 p.m. on Aug. 1-3, and at 2 p.m Aug. 3 and 4. The Saturday matinee dovetails with the Homecoming Parade scheduled for 10 a.m. and the Shiretown Street Festival from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For tickets, call Center Theatre at 564-8943 or visit www.centertheatre.org. Tickets also available at Dover-Foxcroft Chiropractic Center. Pre-sale tickets are $8 for children, $10 adults. Tickets at the door are $10 children and $12 adults.