ST. CLOUD -- One of the main cast members of GREAT Theatre's "The Little Mermaid" has died.

GREAT Theatre Executive Director Dennis Whipple confirmed Shtara Sirmans' death to WJON Tuesday. Sirmans played Ursula in the show and died Sunday night of natural causes.

Whipple says losing Sirmans was a shock to the cast.

"[The news was] A great shock to all of us, we had just finished the opening weekend of Disney's 'The Little Mermaid' and she had stolen the show. She was a joy on the stage and audiences loved her in that part this weekend."

He says the cast was brought together after learning the news Monday. Whipple says they met with a counselor and Sirmans' husband and daughter, who helped them decide to continue the show.

"[We met with] a local counselor, who led us through healthy ways to talk and share memories and get through the loss. At that gathering we were lucky enough to have Shtara's daughter and husband, and as a group decided we wanted to continue on with the show."

The show's choreographer Desiree Clark will step into the role of Ursala.

Whipple says the cast has become more like a family after just a few shows and the news of Sirmans' death, whom he calls a mother figure to the cast, was hard. He says during the group meeting, most of the discussion was about the joy she brought to everyone.

Whipple says the remaining shows, which are sold out, will be dedicated to Sirmans.

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