Trevecca’s Communications department will be putting on a production of The Little Mermaid beginning tonight.
In past years, the department has chosen musicals that were not as well known, such as Big Fish and Children of Eden, in order to expose the Trevecca community to a wide variety of musical theatre.
“We like to keep things fresh and to produce shows that introduce new stories to Trevecca audiences,” says Dr. Jeff Frame, the musical’s director. “We decided that this year, we wanted to do a musical that carried a title with popular draw and instant name recognition.”
It was also an opportunity to expose the cast and crew to the challenges of working with well-known material.
“We wanted to challenge ourselves… to see how Disney's translation from the classic, animated feature film to the Broadway sensation would feel on our stage with our students,” said Frame. “The result has been a very satisfying collaboration among an incredibly talented group of students.”
The Little Mermaid follows the journey of a mermaid named Ariel who searches for love and belonging in the sea and on land. Despite the vibrant sets and captivating music, the show deals with deep themes that Frame hopes will connect with the audience.
“The tale of The Little Mermaid is a cautionary tale. A girl must give up her identity and the things that make her special in order to find love,” said Frame. “Our hope is that, despite the color and dance and music that is so infectious, audiences will also consider what really happens in this story, and why Ariel and the other characters really make the complex choices that they do.”
Staging a version of a popular Disney storyline posed many challenges for the cast and crew.
“The Little Mermaid is a Disney classic, which is a joy and a burden,” said Andrew Raney, a senior who plays the character of Flotsam the eel. “Because everyone knows the story and characters, there’s a lot of pressure to deliver in the manner that they expect.”
Actors are faced with the audience’s preconceived notions of the characters. The challenge is to reinvent the portrayal of the character without reinventing the character itself, said Frame.
The musical takes liberties that differ from the classic film, while still attempting to capture the crux of the story. The production team worked to make sure that the set and costumes captured the essence of the musical’s plot.
“Our production concept involves a Bohemian look,” said Frame. “[It was] designed to reinforce the idea of wanderlust in both Ariel and Eric.”
For students involved, the production is an opportunity to bring the talents of the Trevecca community together.
“There are so many new students and even staff working on this show that bring new, unique abilities,” said Raney. “It never ceases to amaze me how talented and giving Trevecca students are and every year, the new students reaffirm that.”
Ultimately, Raney hopes audiences will gain a new appreciation for theatre as well as a different viewpoint on a well-known story.
“I hope the audience leaves having experienced a different perspective on a tale they know well,” said Raney. “I hope that they feel they have experienced the spectacle of musical theatre, the magic of Disney, and the intimacy of real performance art.”
Visit trevecca.edu/theatre for showtimes and to purchase tickets.