LIMA — Encore Theatre will take us into Ariel’s world as it brings “The Little Mermaid” to life this weekend.
The musical will open Encore’s season, and director Christa Manning wanted the experience to start as soon as audience walks in the door.
“The set is usually not done in-house, but I wanted them to feel a part of it as soon as they get here, before any of this starts,” she said. “I directed a junior version of this about eight years ago back in Pennsylvania, and it’s an extremely difficult show to do technically because there are so many elements that you’re supposed to make happen.”
Lighting and intricate backdrops are used to transport the audience below sea level. To give the illusion of swimming, some characters are even skating around on Heelys.
Along with the set, the cast also had the challenge of bringing animated sea creatures to life.
“I have been watching a lot of ‘Spongebob Squarepants’ and how Mr. Krabs walks,” said Joshua Gooding, who plays Sebastian. “You’re portraying a character that’s not real, not human. Portraying a crab is just totally different, and I wanted to experience what it’s like to be on the fantasy side of things.”
Gooding is joined by Anna Kahle as Ariel, Anthony Taylor as Prince Eric, Elijah White as Flounder, Jonathan Hodges as Scuttle and Terri Crosina-Spencer as Ursula.
“It’s absolutely thrilling to play a mermaid. I remember being a little girl sitting on the edge of the pool singing the ‘ahs’ that Ariel sings,” Kahle said. “To know that I get to do that and there will be people out there that really think I am Ariel is so exciting to me.
“A show like this is so special because people really do suspend their disbelief to escape,” she added. “I love that they get to escape and be happy for a couple hours and believe in the little mermaid and her dream.”
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.