The best thing about “The Little Mermaid” is that everyone knows the story.
The toughest thing about “The Little Mermaid” is that everyone knows the story and that makes it more demanding, say the performers with the Vail Performing Arts Academy.
They hit their summer musical out of the park, and got to make it their own.
They added some songs from the Broadway version because … well, they can.
“We have so many talented kids, so we could add songs from the Broadway show,” said Annie Bronfman, who plays Ursula the sea witch.
For example, Maggie Shaffer (Flotsam) and Mack Calicrate (Jetsam) sing “Sweet Child,” a song from the Broadway show.
“We’re convincing Ariel to get help from Ursula, the sea witch. It’s a creepy and eerie song. The harmonies will send chills down the audience’s back,” they said.
Bronfman (Ursula the sea witch) says she usually plays the funny or bad–funny guy, especially with Vail Performing Arts productions. She has great comic timing.
“It’s more fun to play sassy and funny because you get more feedback from the audience,” Bronfman said.
“That laugh goes into you and brings up your spirit,” Calicrate said.
Alec Mauro is Chef Louie. He didn’t have to learn to cook, he said smiling. He just has to act like he’s cooking.
“The part is free to do lots of ad-libbing,” he said, like when he gets to smack Aiden Woodworth with a foam rubber fish.
Stuart McDonald had never seen “The Little Mermaid” before he signed on to play Scuttle, a big-hearted sea bird. He had no preconceived notions about how the part was supposed to be played.
For the uninitiated, “The Little Mermaid” (In Danish, “Den lille havfrue,” literally: “The little sea lady”) is a well known fairy tale by the Danish author Hans Christian Anderson about a young mermaid willing to give up her life in the sea and her identity as a mermaid to gain a human soul and the love of a human prince. The tale was first published in 1837 and has been adapted to various media including musical theater and Disney’s animated film.
It’s a family
The kids say the Vail Performing Arts Academy really is like a big family. They grow up together, the older ones looking after the younger ones, who will soon be older.
Bronfman was 8 years old when she played her first part.
Colby Wilson is one of Ariel’s mermaid sisters and has been with the Vail Performing Arts Academy since she was 8 years old.
Four kids from three different high schools are chatting about life, how it sometimes imitates art and their time with the academy.
“It brings kids from other schools together who we wouldn’t be able to see very often,” Rachel Keith said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.