Seeing a musical at the Springer Opera House is a local tradition around the holidays.
And this year will be no exception. The Springer opens “The Little Mermaid” this week.
Shane Hall is directing the show and is excited about putting his rendition of the Disney classic on stage.
“I am thrilled to be working on another Disney show,” he said. “This will be my second, after last season’s ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ Disney brings so much magic to it’s creations unlike other stage shows, and I am able to dive (pun intended) into the work even more. ‘The Little Mermaid’ is one of my all-time favorites, so I am excited to be able to create my own version of this amazing fairy tale.”
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Tackling a show like “The Little Mermaid” can be a daunting task. But Hall wasn’t phased by the numerous challenging elements of this particular production.
“We have more than one challenge with this show,” he said. “Good challenges, though. We are using Heely sneakers, which is a sneaker with a wheel on the heel. This was used in the Broadway production to make many of the underwater characters look as if they are swimming. It is not as easy as it looks. We have also have larger than life costumes to build, beautiful flying sequences, and how to make the effect of being underwater.”
The production also boasts a very large cast due to the sheer magnitude of popular ensemble numbers like “Under the Sea.” Hall said he is very happy with the way his ensemble has come together, and his choice to use cast members of all ages.
“This ensemble is all star. It is huge,” he said. “Not to mention the large adult ensemble that I put together, I wanted a youth ensemble as well to be in the show. In the Broadway production, they did not use kids; however, with our amazing and large amount of Springer Academy students, Debbie Anderson and I decided to cast two teams of 10 youth ensemble members. I am thrilled to have them join this process with me.”
Bringing a youth ensemble to a large scale production isn’t easy. Hall has been pleasantly surprised by how well it’s gone.
“The adults in the cast have been blown away by the kids, what they have learned so far, and how well they perform it,” he said. “It is such a beautiful addition to this production and will make the overall show very special simply by having them be apart of this creation for me.”
The lead role of Ariel will be played by Sarah Brackett. Sarah has been seen on the Springer stage most recently as Sister Mary Robert in “Sister Act.” Other Springer roles include “The Who’s Tommy” (Sally Simpson), “Beauty and the Beast” (Babette), “To Kill A Mockingbird” (Maella) and “A Chorus Line” (Maggie).
Casting a Disney princess can take months, but Hall knew exactly who he wanted to cast as Ariel from the very beginning.
“When I was given this assignment from Paul Pierce back in February, I knew right away Sarah Brackett was my Ariel,” he said. “Besides the fact that this is her dream role, she is just all that an Ariel should be. The principle actors in this show are leading with such skill, and by great example.”
With just a few days of rehearsal left to go, the ensemble is putting the final touches on everything and prepping for opening night. Hall is thrilled and ready to open the show.
“I am the type of director that really likes collaboration, and I greatly love the input and feedback from my actors,” he said. “This is just as much of their show as it is mine. I want them to feel comfortable and connected to each movement and stage direction and choreography. The audiences will be blown away at what we are bringing to them and I am chomping at the bit to bring everyone ‘The Little Mermaid.’ This show will truly take your breath away.”
If you go
What: “The Little Mermaid”
When: 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 2-3, 8-10, 15-17, 21-23; 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 4, 11 and 18
Where: Springer Opera House