St. John Theatre partners with local libraries for ‘under the sea’ fun

Published 12:05 am Saturday, July 16, 2022

RESERVE — From July 13-15, St. John the Baptist Parish Library and the St. John Theatre teamed up to present “The Little Mermaid & Friends,” a character meet and greet, at each of the library’s branches.

The meet and greet was performed by Ashley Toups as Ariel, Jenna Toups as Ursula and Karlie Wombles as Flounder, and consisted of the characters singing songs and playing games with children attending, with opportunities to take photos afterwards.

The event was coordinated by Jenna Toups, who works at the library and performs in the theatre, after hearing that a new library was going to be built in Reserve right next door to the St. John Theatre.

“That led us to this beautiful opportunity that we can create this community space for our community and this parish,” said Toups. “While the library and the theatre do different things, the ultimate goal is to serve the community.”

The close proximity of the library and the theatre will give both institutions opportunities to work closely in the future.

“We’re about to enter into a wonderful relationship with the library. The library is coming next to us,” said the president of the St. John Theatre, Judge J. Sterling Snowdy. “We’re not even having walls between the two buildings. We’re going to have a flow-through situation and a partnership.”

The idea to do character meet-and-greets began last summer when the St. John Theatre did Once Upon a Mattress and was able to use the costumes to match up with the summer reading theme that year.

“As part of the theatre board, which I’m also a member of, I was trying to think about how I could mesh those two worlds,” said Toups. “So, my mind went back to the summer reading program.”

This summer, the theatre and the library were able to come together once again for “The Little Mermaid & Friends,” using the costumes from the St. John Theatre’s former production of “The Little Mermaid.”

“This summer came along, and our theatre is damaged so we’re not able to do a show this summer, but the library contacted me and they said, ‘Hey, our theme is Under the Sea, what do you have in mind? Do you have an Ariel?’” said Toups.

During “The Little Mermaid & Friends,” the meet-and-greet kicked off with Ashley Toups singing a song as Ariel for the kids. Afterwards, the children were able to ask the characters questions and then play a game of hot potato where they circled around Flounder to the tune of “Under the Sea.”

The meet-and-greet was a hit with both the children and their parents, and afterwards they excitedly lined up to take photos with their favorite characters.

“We have myself and these other volunteers who are just willing and ready to put this on for the library, and it’s really a good opportunity to kind of grow that relationship and serve our community,” Toups said.