THOMAS — After being delighted with last year’s performance of “Beauty and the Beast” at Snake River High School, I was eagerly awaiting this year’s drama production.

My enthusiasm was dented slightly when I saw that the production was going to be “The Little Mermaid” as I was hoping for something with a little more panache, more depth, and maybe a little more ambition.

After watching the dress rehearsal for “Mermaid” Friday, I was even more impressed with the casting and the talents of these high school students. I don’t know how the casting director could come up with the cast that she did and do it with such a high quality of performers.

I am astounded by the talent and the singing of the two leads. Taite Baldwin as Ariel is spectacular and her range is far beyond her years, and Caleb McBride, who gets the male lead as Prince Eric, was right on cue and did a splendid job as well.

It was only a dress rehearsal and there were blips and glitches that will be worked out before the performance opens to the public on Monday, but overall it was very professionally done and the main cast of characters seems to be well-coached and matched for their talents.

Baldwin is everything you might want as the character of Ariel. With her flaming red hair to the sequined costuming, she fits the part perfectly.

If she is not careful, there could be big things in store for her down the road. She was very believable as Ariel and the expressions she was able to portray during the performance really set her apart.

McBride, wavering between the prince that his father wants and the sailor who falls for a mermaid, played his part very well. Where he may not have the range that Baldwin has, for a high school student, he is very much ahead of the curve of other high school singers that I have had the pleasure to hear.

Two other cast members who were extraordinary were Lizzie Wada who played the part of the adventuring seagull “Skuttle.” Wada may, if she is not careful, steal the show from the others. She has the movements of the seagull down pat and she even has a perfect squawk that will delight all of the fans of the performance from the littlest to the oldest. She nailed her part perfectly.

Alyssa Orr drew the part of “Ursula,” the evil villain in the cast, and she will be superb when the show opens Monday. She has the right amount of evil to blend with what is needed to entice Ariel to “come over to the dark side.”

The background music is what you would expect from a “canned” Disney product and it is the voices of the cast that really brings this version of “The Little Mermaid” to life.

It is something that everyone in Bingham County should strive to get to in the coming week.

“The Little Mermaid” will run nightly with the exception of Wednesday, with performances at 7 p.m. and a special 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday.

Tickets are $7 with a $35 family special for immediate family members.

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