From Wednesday, April 5 to Sunday, April 9, Emmanuel students performed Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” musical. Each of the five 8:00 p.m. showings, and the matinee on Sunday, were sold out performances.
The show, which was written by Doug Wright, includes fan favorites like Ariel, Ursula, Prince Eric, King Triton and Sebastian and features musical numbers like “Under the Sea,” “Kiss the Girl” and “Part of Your World.”
“The Little Mermaid” was Emmanuel’s fifth and final show of the year. The production, with a cast of 30 actors and a crew of ten students, was presented in the Emmanuel College Auditorium and was directed by Scott Gagnon, assistant professor of performing arts and director of theater programs at Emmanuel.
“This was truly an ambitious project,” Gagnon remarked. “We wanted not only to tell this classic story, but to immerse guests, particularly children, in the world of the play.”
Gagnon explained that the auditorium was set up for “in the round” seating, which presented the action all around the audience to make the show feel more immediate and real. “Having the action so close to the audience meant we had to be extremely detailed in our design work. The illusions and special effects we were trying to create needed to work perfectly since people would be seeing them from so close up.”
Twelve alumni, most of whom graduated Emmanuel with performing arts degrees of their own in recent years, returned to either mentor students, assist with technical aspects of the show or lend their expertise. All of the sets, costumes and props were created and built by Emmanuel students themselves. Students build the set, put up and design the lights, sew the costumes, all while of course learning the challenging vocals and lines. “This may have been the most ambitious production we’ve ever attempted,” said Gagnon. “It was wonderful to see how the extended Emmanuel theater family, which grows every year, came together to help do something so wonderful.”
According to Gagnon, one of the most rewarding aspects of putting on “The Little Mermaid” was the reaction from the audience, particularly the young members. “The sight of these young kids, many of whom were the children of faculty, staff and administration, just lighting up when they met the stars of the show, was priceless.”
Katie Ouellette, an administrator at the College, attended the performance with her three children. “I was really impressed with the students’ level of musical talent, especially the lead cast members who clearly have strong training and experience.”
“My kids—who are four, six and seven years old—were so excited to see the musical, having watched the movie many, many times before,” Ouellette said. “This was their first exposure to musical theater, and I wasn’t sure they could sit still for two-plus hours, but they were enthralled by the music and dancing.”
The main characters from the cast even offered a “meet and greet” after the show. “My children are still talking about meeting Princess Ariel and Prince Eric!” Ouellette said.