The Little Mermaid is the third Disney princess musical I have directed in the past 18 months. And while I generally prefer to do a variety of musical styles, I couldn't possibly turn down the chance to work with the Civic Theatre on this show.
It is my favorite of all the Disney pieces and holds a special place in my heart because it came out when my first two children were young. We memorized the lines over the course of the next 10 years, and they never seemed to tire of watching the video over and over and over with me. Snuggled up on the couch, our family cheered for Ariel in her battle with the evil Ursula.
As life goes, my two oldest children grew up and tired of watching movies with me, and my youngest son preferred the movie Cars to princess adventures. Eventually, The Little Mermaid video began to collect dust.
When the stage play was released in 2008, I'm sure there were many of us who were elated to see our beloved story live on stage. Unfortunately, the production floundered on Broadway. I have to think that part of the reason it didn't succeed was because we had all grown up so much since the movie was released in 1989. We didn't raise our daughters to set their sights on hooking a mate. We raised them to follow their dreams and build their own lives. Maybe we had all outgrown the fairy tale.
Fortunately in 2012, director Glenn Casale re-imagined the tale for a more contemporary audience. His changes make up the production you will see at the Civic Theatre. The updates are modest, yet profound and manage to bring the story into the 21st century with great success.
In an effort to help the audience see this musical with fresh eyes, we have chosen not to costume the actors like the Disney characters. We hope that a little disruption will help them see this story for what it really is: two young people searching for their rightful place in the universe, two parent figures clumsily trying to do what's best, an evil sea witch with a colorful backstory and a variety of people and sea creatures willing to help.
It is our hope that you and your family will enjoy this updated fairy tale as you make memories of your own to cherish. In the finale, the cast sings that Ariel and Eric are finally able to "be who they're meant to be."
To all of you out there looking to live authentic lives, we hope this story serves to inspire you and help you to find your true north.