By Amber Eason
It’s been announced that this year’s Barbara Ingram School for the Art’s play is the Little Mermaid. And I was allowed exclusive access into the world of sea creatures, and upcoming musical numbers.
The Little Mermaid is the sixth consecutive musical Barbara Ingram School for the Arts has produced. The play’s cast consists of only BISFA students, and this year’s play boasts one of the largest cast of them all with a breathtakingly huge ensemble. The sheer size of the production offers some of its own challenges as well; however, this enormous cast of characters guarantees a full-bodied and immersive experience. “It’s the largest we’ve ever had,” said Amanda Askin, a musical theater major in the play. “There’s a lot of coordination and timing that goes on behind the scenes that the audience doesn’t see.”
Along with its staggering number of performers, the show also offers some rather amazing special effects: lighting, projections, and even creatures floating on the air. “The audience will feel they’re under the sea with us.” That was Amanda’s favorite thing about the Little Mermaid: “It’s going to be a beautiful experience … I can’t wait to see the audience’s reaction to just that — to us.” She described it as a sort of under the sea choreographed jigsaw puzzle, filled with brilliant colors, fancy footwork (or perhaps finwork), all complete with the lovable — and laughable — buoyant banter of the characters you love.
A look around Black Box Theater and I couldn’t agree more. I was surrounded by a sea of rainbow sequins, bubbly bright colors and swirl after swirl of wispy tool. I think every color in the spectrum was captured.
So at this point you might be thinking so what? It’s bright and beautiful, and somewhat immersive — what’s the big deal about that? Well, alongside it’s bedazzling costumes and sparkling atmosphere, the die-hard Little Mermaid fans will be sure glad to hear that it develops a rather close narrative to the Disney story.
“The play follows a lot of the movie — it’s pretty close, actually,” said Judah Ickes, a musical theater major also in the play. “You get the classic music — the well known stuff — but you also get to hear some cool new tunes, and it puts a nice spin on the old characters.”
So there you have it, folks: the same songs you love and a fresh story to make it pop. It should also be noted that the voices behind these songs are simply magical. I sat in with the concert choir (featuring many of the voices that will be in the play) and honestly I was speechless. Their voices were so strong and harmonious that they resonated around the classroom. It was like everything was in sync with the graceful ring and echo of their pitch. I’m certain the musical will be no different, and these glorious voices will leave the audience as entranced as I was sitting in that white-tiled classroom.
I felt hopeful and alive while leaving, I think that feeling can be found almost anywhere downtown. I saw a few posters advertising for the play in the windows of some local businesses like Regenerate Float Spa and struck up conversation with one of the employees. He said he was excited for the big event, and was happy that the Barbara Ingram School for the Art’s students we’re apart of it. He said it was a way of “making art for now, and saving it for the future.”
The musical is sure to deliver in every way possible, and so if you haven’t already, I would suggest purchasing your tickets here. Liam Clark, a musical theater major performing in the play, said, “It’s like a bonding experience for everyone — you develop a connection with the actors right in front of you — so like people get to bond with their own families while watching ours perform.”
Amber Eason is a Sophmore at Barbara Ingram.