Musicians for The Little Mermaid reflect on their experience 

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Every spring semester, Townsend Harris High School showcases a play as one of the school’s many annual arts-related events. After two years of suspended in-person performances due to the pandemic, this year’s production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid is set to premier on stage later today and Saturday. Numerous departments are involved in bringing the musical into fruition, among them the music pit. The Classic spoke to the play’s musicians as they reflected on their experience working in the musical and returning to in-person performances.

Many students in the department are experienced musicians who use the play as an opportunity to develop their instrumental skills. Junior Darian Jimenez said, “My favorite part about the music department is actually the fact that I’ve been getting a lot better at sight reading… as it’s one of the parts of being a musician I have neglected the most.” 

“The best part for me [in being part of this play] is creating memories for the students involved,” said music teacher and band director Kevin Heathwood. He hopes that by setting the expectations high for this play and delivering a memorable performance, THHS’ arts department will only strive for better in order to, “elevate the arts to the same prestige as the other academic departments.”

For other students in general, joining the music department allowed them to refine their love for music. “I just love pit so much because it re-sparked my passion for music and [pushed] me to be a better musician,” said junior Alex Cho. 

“Coming from a Dominican family, music is pretty big in our culture, so many people in my family are musicians,” Darian said. “I feel that it has become something I’ll never be able to live without again. I’ve joined nearly every music-related activity in school and even outside of school, which I hope to continue to do for my whole life.” 

Many members of the pit joined because of the  opportunity to work with other students who share similar interests. 

“Some of my upperclassmen encouraged me to join the pit orchestra because of their own fond memories and experiences they had in past years,” said sophomore Dominique Silaban. “Playing alongside other musicians in the pit orchestra is a really rewarding experience because you get to share a space with like-minded people who are also passionate about music and encourage you to do your best.”

Participating in pit, many students said, not only lets participants focus on their self-growth as musicians, but also facilitates a sense of community between them. “My favorite part about working in the Pit is the people in it since I’ve known and worked a lot with them beforehand. Having fun and interacting with my peers can often add an extra layer of complexity and ability within oneself and on the performance,” says senior Rakin Haq. 

Freshman Ian You also believes that being part of a collaborative group makes the experience more special. “Personally, I find an ensemble piece coming together extremely satisfying. Cues, parts, solos, there’s just so much that goes into one piece. Same with the cast, cues and collaborating to play accompanying music sound great is what the pit is for,” he said. 

Having worked together on bringing the songs of the musical to life, some pit members shared some of their musical favorites. “My favorite song from our musical production of The Little Mermaid has to be ‘Her Voice,’ which is sung by Prince Eric,” junior Pierre Marbid said. “I especially love playing this song because the clarinet adds a wonderful accompaniment to the rest of the pit orchestra in the musical arrangement.”

Junior Justin Huang has also developed an appreciation for the music of the play, as well as the talent of his fellow instrumentalists. He said, “If I had to pick a single highlight of the show, it would definitely be performing Positoovity for me personally. It may be unexpected, as it wasn’t even a song I knew existed before around 4 or 5 months ago, but as a jazz musician I feel right at home behind the set on that song.”

Alex said that the interrelation of all the departments plays a pivotal role in advancing the play’s production and bringing it to the highest standard possible. He said that “working with the other departments outside of the pit orchestra is a wonderful experience since you finally get to see the fruition of everyone’s hard work and dedication and it’s the most satisfying thing when everything weaves in smoothly.”

Similarly, Justin said, “The department we’ve interacted with the most besides each other would be the singers and actors. It’s very clear that they’re putting in just as much effort as us and when we hit a moment together, it’s a feeling like no other.”

Photo by Hailey Ahn