How did Ursula become so evil? What if Prince Eric had a singing part? Why can't there be more dancing?

If you've ever asked yourself those questions while watching Disney's animated movie "The Little Mermaid," it's time to see the stage production.

Children's Castle Theater will present the show March 10-25 at the Lakeville Area Arts Center.

Unlike the eight or so songs with lyrics in the cartoon, the stage production has 23, several of which are sung by Prince Eric as he pines for the magical voice he has fallen in love with.

Hearing Eric's side of the story also changes the moral of the story. For Ariel, the mermaid, it's still a cautionary tale of being careful for what you wish for and who you make deals with. But for Eric, it's about making a conscious choice to love Ariel, even when she's sold her voice for legs. Eric is still drawn by the voice, now possessed by the evil Ursula, but he chooses to stay with Ariel.

"We couldn't have asked for a better Ariel and Eric," said director Kayla Yaeger. "Both of them are very talented."

Both also have been doing this sort of thing for most of their lives.

Ariel, played by Meghan Hayes, 17, of Rosemount, has been doing shows with CCT since she was 11 but has never had the lead part until now.

"It was a piece of cake to learn," Hayes said. She recently played a supporting character in an Eagan production of the same musical.

Hunter Conrad, 15, of Farmington, has a resume that includes a movie part, Metropolitan Boys Choir and other productions around the Twin Cities area.

"The most challenging part of this role is getting into the princely mode," he said. During rehearsal, Yaeger and the music director, Haley Garland, were constantly reminding the slouching Conrad to stand up straight, put his shoulders back and walk with an air of authority.

The production has a cast of 153. Yaeger and her co-director Heidi Schmidt took over CCT in 2006 and said they are always looking for programs that are fun, allow for a big cast and have audience appeal.

"We don't often put on Disney shows," Yaeger said. "But the audiences really like it."

Even though the stage production changes things up a bit, the storyline remains intact, as do the familiar songs from the 1989 animated film such as "Under the Sea," "Kiss the Girl," and "Part of Your World."

Although the cast draws from the southern metro area, five of the main characters are from Rosemount and four are from Farmington.

Converting a cartoon, in which characters can defy the laws of physics, to the very physical stage, also has required some changes from the Disney movie, Yaeger said.

The magical shell, which is a necklace in the film, becomes a larger shell, something the audience can see from their seats.

The movie scene in which Ursula the octopus magically morphs into a huge sea monster will be treated differently on stage, although Yaeger is saving that surprise for those who see the show.

As for special effects, Yaeger is hoping for lots of bubbles, creative lighting and fog machines.

"We think that'll be fun for the kids," she said.

Her two leads have taken their roles very seriously, especially when it comes to being role models for their younger castmates.

"Being a role model is really nice," Conrad said. "I love giving them information."

Hayes said she loves the younger kids and has had her kindness rewarded with several crayon-drawn pictures to put on her walls.

They also have taken on the role of speaking out for art in schools.

"High school theater should be valued more than it is right now," Conrad said.

In Rosemount, Hayes said her teachers are working to change the STEM focus to STEAM to include arts in the science and math objectives.

The fishy fable is rated G, runs about 2.5 hours and includes a 15 minute intermission. For more information, go online to