Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Little Mermaid (1979)

Lea Thompson as "The Little Mermaid."

Presented in the winter of 1979, "The Little Mermaid" was adapted from the Hans Christian Andersen tale by CTC resident playwright Timothy Mason, with original music composed and orchestrated by Steven M. Rydberg. Directed by John Clark Donahue and choreographed by Maria Cheng, with scenic design by Dahl Delu and costume design by Gene Davis Buck. One of the most technically challenging productions in the Theatre's history, it was also extremely labor intensive (for example, each mermaid required her own "shifter" crew member) and multiple locales and special effects in the first act, taking place under the sea, on the water, and on land. Also, because the title character is mute once she leaves her underwater kingdom, the play relied heavily on movement, therefore the Little Mermaid would require an accomplished dancer in the role. A former child actor with the Theatre (appearing in the 1972 production of "Madeline and the Gypsies"), young Lea Thompson was "borrowed" from Loyce Houlton's Minnesota Dance Theater to appear as a guest artist (soon after, Lea would head east to join the Pennsylvania Ballet and, later, make her way to Hollywood, achieving fame with her involvement in the "Back to the Future" trilogy and her television series "Caroline in the City").

The documentation video is of poor quality, using the "reel to reel" black-and-white technology in use at the time.  Also, some of the musicians' performances are absolutely excruciating to hear -- there must've been unrehearsed substitutes in the pit that day. Instead, listen to the audio clips for a better indication of the music performance quality and the composer's intent.

Video - Act One:

Video - Act Two:

Audio clips:


Beneath the Sea:

The Land Above:

Whale Spouts:

Royal Ship:

Tempest and Rescue:

Descent to the Sea Witch:

The Bargain:


A Dance for the Prince:

End Act One:

Open Act Two - The Palace:

Children's Song:

Plucked Strings Interlude:

Women's Dance:

Little Mermaid's Dance:

Dance Reprise:

Mermaid Sisters:

Pas de Deux:


Procession of the Princess:


Wedding Dance:


Foam on the Waves: