By KWAPI VENGESAYI, Community Engagement Specialist
Disney’s The Little Mermaid has enthralled international audiences across generations and cultures. Its score is enchanting and visuals captivating, but it’s more than just a fairy tale about a beautiful princess who falls in love with a dashing prince. In an interview with Director Glenn Casale and actors Diana Huey and Matthew Kacergis, we discuss this beloved story and our own spectacular production.
WHAT DREW YOU TO DISNEY’S THE LITTLE MERMAID?
DIANA HUEY (DH): Singing “Part of Your World” as a child is one of my earliest memories. I vividly remember knowing every word and mimicking each intonation while daydreaming that I was a beautiful mermaid princess. The opportunity to live out one of my childhood dreams is incredible!
GLENN CASALE (GC): I loved the film and when I first saw it I thought, “This is a Broadway show!” I read the Hans Christian Andersen short story and wanted to dig deeper into the characters and the relationships through this production.
MATTHEW KACERGIS (MK): I grew up on the Disney musical cartoons and The Little Mermaid was certainly a staple. It’s got some absolutely incredible music, both from the original film and some new songs written for the stage production. I also love how Glenn and the creative team have decided to tell this story.
WHAT IS THIS STORY ABOUT TO YOU?
DH: A huge part of Ariel’s story is that she feels like she can’t be her true self. There’s no doubt that she loves her father, family and friends, but if you can’t be happy with yourself, then you’re stuck in a pretty miserable rut. It’s hard to give your best self to the world if you are limiting that best self from thriving. I hope to bring Ariel’s strength and bravery to the stage and inspire people to be happy, fulfilled and proud of who they are!
GC: It is about a young girl who is trying to figure out who she is and why she is different from her sisters. She is not comfortable with her fins and the body she inhabits: she knows that she belongs somewhere else. She finds the courage to explore this new world and life.
MK: I think Ariel and Eric are both young people who are just discovering their own individualism and they are both feeling restricted in the world they were born into. We have all experienced what it’s like to feel different and to have dreams that set us apart. We, the cast, owe it to the dreamers in the audience to be generous with that part of ourselves so they know there are others out there who have the audacity to chase their dreams.
WHY DO FAIRY TALES CAPTIVATE US AS CHILDREN AND STICK WITH US INTO ADULTHOOD?
DH: Fairy tales are often centered around important themes like self-discovery, family, bravery and adventure. They are also some of the first stories we hear as children. I think that they help instill a foundation in us to be a good and happy person. I know that whenever I hear them again, they always bring out the inner child in me.
GC: I feel we never lose the sense of wonder and hope that fairy tales give us. We know the lessons we learned from them as children and we want to relive them and share them with the next generations. That is what is so great about them—you can share the experience with the whole family.
MK: The beautiful thing about fairy tales is that they can take a story about an everyday experience and remove the limitations of reality. But despite the fact that magic might intervene, there’s always a moral that reminds us that it’s up to us to make the change we want to see. The magic helps children develop their imagination and sense of wonder; the moral of the story stays with us into adulthood.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE FOR AUDIENCES TO TAKE AWAY WHEN THEY LEAVE THE THEATER?
DH: This production is full of Disney magic, excitement and of course, the music we all love! It’s a classic loved by so many people and I can’t wait for new generations to get to experience it for the first time and for older generations to get to get to relive a childhood favorite! I hope everyone leaves singing and dancing with joy in their hearts.
GC: Disney’s The Little Mermaid reminds us that family is priceless and it is important to listen to someone who wants to change.
MK: I hope our audiences walk away believing in the power of their own individuality and their dreams. I hope families are reminded to listen to one another. I hope they leave singing the beautiful music. And of course, I hope they leave with smiles on their faces!