For three performances over as many days last week, PRCC students and staff worked together to bring “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” to life on the Brownstone Center for the Arts stage. The musical was well received by attendees with many commenting on how it exceeded their expectations.
Based on the Hans Christian Anderson story and subsequent animated classic, “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” is the story of Ariel who dreams of life above her ocean home. Everything about humans fascinates her and she becomes captivated by the handsome Prince Eric. Feeling out of place in her ocean home, she soon strikes a deal with the sea witch, Ursula, to get legs with the hope of winning the prince’s heart. Thankfully, she has a few great friends determined to see her succeed and regain calm under the sea.
This musical production included beloved songs originally in the animated version of the show along with a few new selections. While the main storyline remains, there were some variations to the plot to help the production work for a live action stage performance. This included having Ursula appear as her true sea witch self when using Ariel’s captured voice to keep Prince Eric from kissing her.
Music was provided by a dozen musicians seated in the orchestra pit and under the direction of Dr. LaDona Tyson, Director of Choral Groups at PRCC. The addition of live music helped to elevate the overall experience for those in the audience. Along with selections that were sung, there were transitional pieces played to help set the mood and fill time as the stage was changed for a new scene.
Setting the stage for this familiar show required a mix of creativity and the use of the audience’s imagination. The use of projected background images and video along with key physical components carried or wheeled onto the stage for each scene helped to make it possible.
One scene that had some squeal with glee was during the song “Under the Sea.” Sebastian (Justin Wakeland, Hattiesburg) led several castmates playing underwater creatures down the stairs and across the space between the orchestra pit and audience before returning to the stage. The auditorium also had rounds of applause when beloved characters like Ariel (Anna Resse Arroyo, Hattiesburg) and Ursula (Mallorie Saucier, Carriere) sang key notes of songs like “Part of Your World” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls.” And the scene of Chef Louis (Jonathan Freeman, Picayune) chasing Sebastian led to many laughing out loud.
Audience members were given the opportunity to meet different characters after each show. Several grabbed autographs and snapshots with their favorites.
POSITIVE REVIEWS FROM ATTENDEES
Both on social media and in person, people attending have had only positive things to say about the production. Attendees from Thursday night’s show were encouraging family and friends to get their tickets for the other shows.
The Molaison family from Carriere thoroughly enjoyed the performance. One of the girls especially liked Ursula, Sebastian, and Chef Louis who was “very entertaining.”
Marc Molaison brought his daughters to the production. “I am really impressed with the facility and the students did a great job with their performances. I will definitely be coming back to see future PRCC productions.”
The costumes for this production were amazing, both when viewed on stage and up close. Makeup for the show was done by PRCC Cosmetology students. Together, they helped to bring the characters to life.
Journi Spence of Carriere also enjoyed the show. “I really liked all the costumes. My favorite was Ariel’s wedding dress.”
Several young audience members signed up for a special meet-and-greet held on Saturday afternoon. They were given a special card to collect stickers and signatures as they went through seven different stations: get to know King Triton & Mersisters, visit Sebastian & Flounder, Meet Ariel, arts and crafts with a character, sail with Prince Eric and his crew, join Flotsam & Jetsam on a visit to Ursula's lair, and finally enjoy a cupcake with Chef Louis and more characters.
One special guest at the event was Luna McElroy of Covington, Louisiana who won the pre-event costume contest. Her aunt had seen the contest announcement on Facebook and knew her baby mermaid photo would be a great entry. The students involved in the production agreed, voting for her photo to be the winner.
McElroy had a wonderful time at the event with her parents and grandparents alongside her. She could be found twirling with the mermaids, giving Ariel all the hugs, and trying to not get blue frosting on her pretty white dress with an embroidered mermaid. She declared it “the most fun on land and sea!”
Kensley Myers of Bassfield was also super excited to meet some of her favorite characters and see the performance. She had a special interest in the production as her aunt Kajira Myers played different animals during the songs “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl.”
“Ariel is my favorite,” said Myers. “And ‘Part of Your World’ is my favorite song that Ariel sings.”
UPCOMING EVENTS AT PRCC
Two student events for the spring semester will be happening at the Brownstone Center for the Arts this month.
Wind Ensemble & Concert Band — Tuesday, April 12 at 7 p.m.
JazzCats & The Voices — Thursday, April 21 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $7 each with seats assigned at the time of purchase. They are available for advance purchase at prcc.edu/brownstone/events or at the door the night of the performance.