Savannah Children’s Theatre invites you to be part of their world with “The Little Mermaid” – Savannah Morning News

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The Savannah Children’s Theatre is a flurry activity in the days leading up to its production of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” As I walk in, I spy a flock of seagulls in tap shoes fluttering around the stage, King Triton patiently sits in the audience occasionally clicking his gauntlets together, and Ariel is practicing the use of her new legs. 

While it is a children’s theater, don’t expect this to look like a school production. Everyone involved gives their all from beginning to end.

“SCT is community theatre, in the truest sense! It takes an entire village to create one musical on this scale; fish pun not intended,” said Associate Director Jenn Doubleday. “Watching families volunteer together ― fathers and daughters, grandparents and grandkids, siblings and best friends ― all using their time and talents to create something memorable for the community, is a very special process. From the volunteer actors on stage to a small army of volunteers behind the scenes, there truly is a place for everyone in this community.”

Beloved story of following a dream

The story of Ariel is one that most of us are familiar with through the Disney animated feature, the Broadway musical, and the multiple variations of the Hans Christian Anderson story. Every version changes a bit through the interpretation of the actors. I wanted to see what the SCT actors thought of their production. In a classroom space away from the bustling stage, I had a chance to chat with the actors playing Ariel, Scuttle, Prince Eric, and Ursala about this exciting production of a Disney classic. 

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Hannah Richmond, who portrays Ariel, has been with SCT for seven years and is thrilled about the ways this production is growing her abilities.

“One of the things that I’ve been really working on is being able to communicate with other people on stage when I can’t talk. Because in the entirety of Act Two, I don’t talk at all.”

This production also offers her the opportunity to do stunts. There will be a rigging system that allows actors to fly as a way of simulating swimming for certain scenes. “I’m just very excited to see how it’s going to happen because I’ve never flown before.”

As I spoke with the younger actors, Joan McKee walked in with her face done up in purple Ursala makeup making me briefly freeze. It really felt as if I had walked into the Disney animated film, and I was the odd person out; funny given that the theme of “The Little Mermaid” is about finding a place to belong.

It’s a sentiment that Doubleday echoed. “At one time or other, I think we have all experienced a strong desire to belong, to be part of something bigger and grander than our own lived experience. Ariel pursues that dream to its fullest, and she brings peace to two separate worlds and families. It’s a beautiful, inspiring story.”

As an iconic villain, McKee has big shoes to fill, but she’s confident that she’ll be able to honor the performers who came before her while also adding some of her own flair.

“Everyone has their own version of her that they like, and no one can do Pat Carroll [from the animated feature]. No one wants to try to emulate that, but you want something of that to come true and come through, because I think that’s everybody’s touchstone when they think of Ursula. The Broadway version was in a completely different realm, so people who grew up on that will go in a whole other direction. There’s such a spectrum that Ursula can be on. I’m just kind of giving it my interpretation and hoping that it resonates with the audience.”

Eowyn Miller, playing Scuttle, is a 10-year veteran of SCT who found where she belongs. She fell in love with the theater after watching her friend perform. Today she is still acting, but she’s also sharing her love with younger actors by teaching at SCT.

She said she hopes this production will inspire young actors the same way she was inspired. “This is just such a fun show for everybody in it. It’s so energetic, and it’s a recognizable story.”

Daniel Bosch, who plays Prince Eric, agreed. He’s been with SCT for about 13 years now and has seen, firsthand, how important it is for kids looking for a place to thrive. “My mom put me in all the sports. Nothing ever really stuck. So, I did a few of the classes here, and I’ve just always loved it.”

Want to be on stage?

For anyone considering joining SCT, Doubleday said there are several upcoming opportunities.

“We have theatre summer camps in both Savannah and Pooler, which are great way for young people to try a little bit of everything theatre-related. Soon we’ll be having auditions for our 2024-25 season, which means loads of volunteer opportunities on stage and behind the scenes.” 

For a chance to be part of Savannah Children’s Theatre’s world, follow them on social media or sign up for the newsletter.

If You Go >>

What: Savannah Children’s Theatre presents Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”

When: May 17-19, May 24-26, May 31-June 2

Where: Savannah Children’s Theatre, 2160 E. Victory Drive

Tickets: Start at $20

Info: SavannahChildrensTheatre.org

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