Join ArtisTree this summer as we bring The Little Mermaid JR to our very own community. Whether you’re a young actor or an adult volunteer, experience the magic of bringing a musical theatre adventure to life.
By Karen Rodis, Arts Programming Coordinator
Theatregoers and young performers take note: the stage musical The Little Mermaid JR is coming to South Pomfret along with a new two-week theatre camp for children and teens!
Chances are you’re familiar with The Little Mermaid, whether it’s the original tale by Hans Christian Andersen, the 1989 Disney animated feature film, or any number of other versions of the classic story. The Little Mermaid JR is adapted from Disney’s Broadway production and motion picture with its Academy Award-winning music.
ArtisTree's 2017 two-week summer camp will take children and teens ages 7-18 on a lively journey through all aspects of the theatre arts. Each performer will be assigned a role—or multiple roles—in our inaugural production of The Little Mermaid JR at ArtisTree’s new Grange Theater in South Pomfret. We’ll be looking for adults interested in creating costumes, making props, helping backstage and more to bring our show to the public on August 11, 12 and 13.
Even if you haven’t heard the tale (tail?) of the little mermaid, you’ve surely been acquainted with mermaids and their relatives, sirens, through stories, many dating back thousands of years. Cultures worldwide have tales about creatures with beautiful singing voices capable of enchanting humans. Water fairies, water nymphs and selkies (Celtic creatures who transform from seals into humans) all are portrayed with magical qualities. In ancient times, mermaids were featured in Assyrian stories and sirens figured importantly in Greek mythology.
Illustration by Edmund Dulac for Hans Christian Andersen's short story
"The Little Mermaid", published in 1911 Image Credit
Danish children’s author Hans Christian Anderson worked traditional folk tales into his own fiction. He wrote the romantic story “The Little Mermaid” at a time when children’s tales were exclusively didactic and moral. I recommend taking a look inside early publications of "The Little Mermaid" for their exquisite illustrations.
Unlike the Disney version, Anderson’s mermaid longs not only for the love of a handsome prince, but also to have the immortal soul of a human (souls being something mermaids apparently lack). And while the mermaid in Anderson’s tale—different from Disney’s Ariel—does not win the heart of the prince, the story ends with the mermaid given a chance to earn immortality. The Little Mermaid continues to be a big part of Danish culture, honored with a bronze statue by the waterside in Copenhagen.
Bronze Statue of The Little Mermaid by Edvard Eriksen in Copenhagen, Denmark
Interestingly, mermaids and mermaid stories have become increasingly trendy in popular culture these last few years. In fashion, the mermaid “look” plays itself out in iridescent fabrics, shimmery nails and makeup, and sorbet-colored hair.
Cozy knit mermaid tail blankets for kids were a holiday gift hit during December 2016. The biggest hotel trend last summer was the "mermaid class": swimming and exercising while wearing a mermaid tail. Mermaid photo shoots are hugely popular.
If you’re committed to a mermaid lifestyle, you can become a professional mermaid coach, underwater performer, or entertainer. Perhaps you'll want to get a subscription to Mermaids & Mythology, the mermaid lifestyle magazine that's "making a splash all over the world." If you're truly passionate about mer-life, you can purchase your own tail for costs ranging from $100 to over $5000!
Not invested in living the life of a mermaid, but still eager for undersea magic?
Well, that's what theatre is for!
The Little Mermaid JR follows the story of Ariel, the young mermaid who resides in her father’s underwater kingdom yet yearns for the human world on land. Defying her father and making a bargain with Ursula, the sea witch, sets Ariel along a path with her creature friends Sebastian, Scuttle, and Flounder to win the affections of handsome Prince Eric in three days' time.
This production includes many additional character roles and musical numbers that were not in the feature film. The show is written to flow seamlessly between sea and land through creative movement and configurations that bring these worlds to life. Young people can let their imaginations run wild as they participate in the fantasy of living “under the sea.”
ArtisTree is excited to produce The Little Mermaid JR as the first show in our new theater and the first play to be performed this summer in the ArtisTree Music Theatre Festival. Our upcoming summer production will give kids an opportunity to develop their theatrical chops by learning from a team of professional theatre artists.
In our two-week camp, which culminates in three musical theatre performances, young people will enjoy acting, singing and dancing along with creating props, costumes and sets. Our team of energetic and talented professional actors, singers, directors and choreographers has designed a camp program that will expand participants’ skills and artistry in a dynamic and fun atmosphere.
Disney’s The Little Mermaid JR Theater Camp will run from July 31 through August 11. Performances are scheduled for August 11, 12 and 13. Look for more details about the camp online at http://www.artistreevt.org and in our summer 2017 program brochure.