Baraboo Theatre Guild is taking the classic fairy tale of “The Little Mermaid” from the screen to the stage.
Tonight, the community theater group opens its production of the live-action musical at the Al. Ringling Theatre. Audiences will see Ariel the mermaid, Sebastian the crab and Ursula the sea witch in a new light.
“We’re literally bringing the story to life,” director Tina Lang said. “I think people of all ages are enjoying the opportunity to embody characters they’ve only known as cartoons.”
Actors, orchestra musicians, set builders and costume makers have spent the past two months preparing the show for opening night. Lang said the Theatre Guild’s board of directors picked “The Little Mermaid” because it’s likely to draw the large audiences needed to pay for royalties, theater rental, costumes and technical equipment.
“BTG likes to offer a musical theater experience that will appeal to a wide variety of ages and interests,” Lang said. “They also like to include a wide variety of ages in the cast.”
Dozens of actors, including several parents performing alongside their children, won roles in this Disney extravaganza.
“It’s great fun to work with an intergenerational cast, especially on a musical that is best known as told through animation,” Lang said. “The children are very good at capturing that whimsical spirit, and it’s fun to watch that youthful energy and joy being handed over to adults.”
After all, kids aren’t the only ones who enjoy taking a trip to the land of make-believe.
“Theater allows grown men the fun of pretending to be sailors on a mighty sailing vessel or silly chefs in a palace kitchen,” Lang said. “It allows adult women the fun of pretending to be mermaids or princesses. Somehow, the children’s presence and participation invites the adults to a place of creativity they may not otherwise have gone.”
Cast members aren’t the only volunteers bringing “The Little Mermaid” to life. Mikka Roessler and Danny Beard led a crew in designing and building a set with several moving parts. Baraboo High School art students created props. Dance teacher Amy Teelin “simply has a way of making magic” with her choreography, said Lang, whose husband Greg will conduct the pit orchestra.
“I’m excited for audiences to see all these pieces put together,” Lang said. “All of the different sea creatures making music and dancing together is incredibly joyful.”
Follow Ben Bromley on Twitter @ben_bromley