Celebrate the Holidays with Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” at Walnut Street Theatre

-Courtesy of Walnut Street Theatre

Walnut Street Theatre (WST) continues its 213th season with the breathtaking Broadway hit for all ages, Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID. Directed by Glenn Casale and choreographed by John MacInnis, the production begins previews on November 16, 2021, opens November 24, and continues through January 2, 2022 on the Walnut’s Mainstage.

Based on the beloved Hans Christian Andersen story and the classic film, Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID is a hauntingly beautiful story of love and letting go. Ariel, King Triton’s youngest daughter, challenges her father’s authority as she dreams of finding her own way in the world above the sea. But what will she give up to fulfill her dreams of independence? Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID will capture audiences’ hearts with its timeless story and irresistible songs, including “Under the Sea,” “Kiss the Girl,” and “Part of Your World.” Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID promises to be one of the most spectacular productions ever staged at the Walnut!

The 1989 animated film, written & directed by John Musker & Ron Clements, features iconic music and lyrics written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, respectively. It won two Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song (“Under the Sea”) and is widely credited with launching The Disney Renaissance of the ‘90s. In 2008, the film was adapted for the Broadway stage with additional lyrics by Glenn Slater and a book by Doug Wright. The Walnut’s production marks the Philadelphia professional regional premiere of this stage musical.

Glenn Casale, who was last seen on the Walnut’s Mainstage for 2019’s Shrek The Musical, returns to direct. Casale directed the 2012 Dutch production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, the national tour, and several regional productions in the States. Casale’s revisions to the original Broadway adaptation are now the basis for all major licensed productions worldwide. His work also includes the 1999 Broadway revival of Peter Pan, which received a Tony nomination for Best Revival of a Musical, as well as the National Tour of Peter Pan and the A&E television production. He directed Dragapella! at Studio 54, which was nominated for a Drama Desk and two Lucille Lortel Awards. Chris Burcheri returns as music director and John MacInnis serves as choreographer for his first WST production. Burcheri continues his second season on the Walnut’s Mainstage, having provided music and vocal direction for Beehive – The ‘60s Musical this season, as well as Young Frankenstein and Shrek prior. He has also served as music director for the WST for Kids series and the associate conductor on Annie and Holiday Inn. MacInnis choreographed productions of The Little Mermaid in Holland, Russia, and Japan, as well as Beauty and the Beast in five European countries. He was the director/choreographer of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes, and the Olympic medals ceremonies for the 2002 and 2010 Olympic games. MacInnis is the Associate Choreographer for the Broadway and West End productions of The PromMean GirlsSomething RottenAladdin and The Book of Mormon.

The titular mermaid, Ariel, will be brought to life by Diana Huey. Huey, making her Walnut debut, is a Helen Hayes Award winner for her portrayal of Kim in Miss Saigon (Alliance Theatre) and Gregory Award winner for playing Ariel in the national tour productions of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. In addition to her other theatre credits, which include Rock of Ages (5th Avenue Theatre) and Maybe Happy Ending (Alliance Theatre), Huey is an advocate for diversity in the arts. Walnut veteran Sean Thompson, who audiences may remember as Warner in 2019’s Legally Blonde, will play the swashbuckling Prince Eric. Thompson’s other WST credits include South PacificWizard of Oz, and Gifts of the Magi. Ariel’s father and ruler of Atlantica, King Triton, will be played by Walnut newcomer Derrick Cobey, whose credits include originating the role of Andy Wright in The Scottsboro Boys on Broadway and the second Broadway revival of Kiss Me Kate. Cobey is no stranger to Philadelphia theatre, having performed at The Arden and Philadelphia Theatre Company. King Triton’s right-hand crab and Ariel’s guardian, Sebastian, will be played by WST acting apprentice alum Dana Orange, who was last seen on the Walnut’s stage as the wise-cracking Donkey in Shrek. Orange’s other credits include Sister Act (WST), To Kill a Mockingbird (Millbrook Playhouse), and In The Heights (Park Playhouse).

Walnut favorite Rebecca Robbins returns for her 19th WST production as the wicked sea witch, Ursula. Robbins was last on the Walnut’s Mainstage as the salon owner Paulette in Legally Blonde. Her Broadway credits include A Tale of Two Cities and The Phantom of the Opera. Ursula’s slithering henchmen, Flotsam and Jetsam, will played by Adam Hoyak (Shrek) and Jesse Jones (Legally Blonde), respectively.

Actor Kevin Kulp, who was previously seen in 2018’s Matilda, will return as Ariel’s fish friend, Flounder. Scuttle, a seagull and “expert” on humans, will be played by Ellie Mooney, who was last on the Walnut’s Mainstage as The Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz in 2016. Chef Louis, the palace cook looking to make a meal out of Sebastian, will be played by WST regular Ben Dibble, who audiences will remember as the pint-sized villain, Lord Farquaad, in Shrek. Also returning to the Walnut is actor Bill Van Horn, who last played Sir John Pontefract in 2019’s A Woman of No Importance, to portray Prince Eric’s put-upon servant, Grimsby.

Returning to the Walnut to form an ensemble of sailors, merfolk, and sea creatures are Rachel Beiswenger (The Wizard of Oz), Mark Donaldson (Shrek), BillyD Hart (Legally Blonde), Bonnie Kelly (Beehive), and Adam Mandala (Shrek). The Walnut welcomes Xhenet Capani, Alexandra Frohlinger, Rachael Britton Hart, Caroline Kane, Jackson Siegel, and Devon Sinclair as they make their WST Mainstage debuts in the ensemble.

Young actors returning to the Walnut as part of the Little Mermaid children’s ensemble are Cecelia Kent (Shrek) of Lower Gynedd, PA; Emma Scherz (Shrek) of Mount Laurel, PA; Akiva Schostak (Shrek) of Haddonfield, NJ; and Charlotte Ward Taylor (Matilda) from West Chester, PA. Also in the children’s ensemble and making their Walnut Mainstage debuts will be Amelia Carnahan of Philadelphia, PA; Madeline Garson of Wallingford, PA; Garrett Heinerichs of King of Prussia, PA; Alexandria Holman of Philadelphia, PA; Zachary Huot of Bensalem, PA; Declan MacDonald of Wayne, PA; Olivia Bee Sposa from Cherry Hill, NJ; and Ryan Sullivan from Glenside, PA.

Scenic Designer Robert Andrew Kovach (Shrek, Young Frankenstein, Holiday InnForum) returns to the Walnut to take audiences both under the sea and sailing across its surface. Kovach will be joined by Lighting Designer Charlie Morrison (Shrek, Young Frankenstein, the national tour of Disney’s The Little Mermaid) and Sound Designer Ed Chapman (Shrek, Young Frankenstein, Holiday InnForum). Giving the cast everything from fins, tentacles, and wings to elegant dresses and crowns, Costume Designer Mary Folino (BeehiveYoung FrankensteinMatilda, Annie, Holiday Inn) will create the wardrobe for the cast. Folino is joined by Hair and Makeup Designers Will Vicari and Krystal Balleza (Shrek) who will help bring these fantastic characters to life.

Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID runs at the Walnut November 16, 2021 – January 2, 2022.

Guests will need to be fully vaccinated with an FDA or WHO authorized vaccine to attend a show and must show proof of vaccination at their time of entry into the theatre with their valid ticket. Masks must be worn inside the theatre. All ages including children are welcome under the sea! Children under 12 who are not vaccinated can show a negative COVID-19 test at the door. Rapid tests are available at local drugstores and online. For the theatre’s health and safety policies, please click here.

Media Partners are 6abc and Metro. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.com.

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