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Ithaca, NY – Walt Disney’s magic comes to Ithaca with Running to Places’ (R2P) production of Little Mermaid, the perfect family musical, complete with dancing guppies and singing seagulls.

R2P will provide some extra magic for the audience by transforming the former Sears store in the Shops at Ithaca Mall into a full-fledged theater for the performance (entrance through the food court). The show runs one weekend only, May 13-15.

Mermaid Ariel (Sierra Stallman) is fascinated with the world of humans, which her father, King Triton (Ari Cummings), has forbidden. As she and her friend Flounder (Nico Sawester) seek to learn more about humans from Scuttle the seagull (Emma Ellis), Triton sets Sebastian (Addy Whitener) to stop her. Meanwhile the evil Ursula (Alyssa Salerno) and her minions Flotsam (Riley Kwortnik) and Jetsam (Kayla Markwardt) want to use Ariel in a plot against Triton.

When a storm sweeps the human Prince Eric (Jasper Fearon) into the sea, Ariel breaks Triton’s law to save his life. But now she is even more determined to see the human world for herself, and strikes a bargain with Ursula that could lead to disaster – or true happiness.

(Photo provided.)

The “Little Mermaid” musical is based on the animated Disney movie and has all the hits people know and love, like “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl.” But in the transition from silver screen to stage new material was added to deepen and enrich all the characters and the story. The show delves into issues of deep family history that the movie doesn’t explore – such as why Ursula wants to cause mischief.

The stage show sends a strong feminist message, says R2P Artistic Director Joey Steinhagen, that doesn’t come through as well in the movie. “Ariel’s looking to find a world separate from her family, an experience familiar to all teenagers,” he explains. “She doesn’t even meet Eric until she’s already decided she wants to explore the world above. Her journey taking a romantic turn doesn’t diminish its feminist essence because the bottom line is that she’s pursuing her own path.”

The large cast keeps the show lively, with colorful costumes by Liz Woods and energetic, compelling choreography by Kelly Jackson. Jeremy Pletter serves as music director.

Set designer Deb Drew and construction engineer Jim Drew, as well as sound designer/production manager Dan Paolangeli and lighting designer Evan Hawkins are going above and beyond for this show, says Steinhagen.

“We’re taking the old Sears store, an open, empty box that has only floor, ceiling, walls and electricity, and we’re turning it into a real theatre by adding a stage, lights, curtains, chairs – everything,” says Steinhagen. “Running to Places has never had to build an entire theatre before, but it’s very much in the spirit of what we are and what our name embodies.”

(Photo provided.)

Members of the community are pitching in, too, like the State Theatre of Ithaca and Dryden High School, which are loaning equipment. “This is one of the neat things about being a community theatre; it’s such a collaborative art form,” Steinhagen says. “I’ve always been moved by the culture of cooperation in the Ithaca theatre world.”

The show has received scholarship support from The Savage Club of Ithaca, Rawlings Construction, and an anonymous fund at the Community Foundation of Tompkins County, with additional grant support from the Park Foundation, the Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County and the Community Foundation of Tompkins County, and season-long support from CSP Management.

“Little Mermaid” runs one weekend only: May 13-15, Friday and Saturday at 7 pm, Sunday at 2 pm. Tickets are $15 the day of the show, $13 if purchased in advance, available on-line at www.runningtoplaces.org. The Shops at Ithaca Mall are at 40 Catherwood Rd, Ithaca; performances are in the former Sears store, with entry through the food court.

Performance Dates:

  • Fri., May 13 at 7:00 pm
  • Sat., May 14 at 7:00 pm
  • Sun., May 15 at 2:00 pm

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at msmith@ithacavoice.com, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.