Kelowna Actors Studio opens curtain on biggest show yet, The Little Mermaid
Audiences can dive under the sea this summer to visit Ariel’s Grotto, Prince Eric’s Castle and even Ursula’s Lair right here in Kelowna.
“It’s a dream,” said Rebbecca Thackray, who plays Ariel. “It’s a dream come true.
“It’s nerve-racking trying to bring someone’s favourite character to life, and I’m taking inspiration from the stage show as well as the movie to really bring people back.”
Taking a story from under the sea and bringing it onto the stage is no easy feat while trying to keep its fairytale whimsy.
“We’ve got flying, we’ve got special effects, amazing costuming, set décor. It’s our biggest production to date,” said Randy Leslie, artistic managing director of Kelowna Actors Studio.
“It’s our biggest production to date and the Kelowna Actors Studio has been around for 17 years, so it’s very exciting and very expensive. So we are hoping this isn’t a children’s theatre production. It’s actually a very big Broadway production.”
Thirty years after Disney released its version of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, The Kelowna Actors Studio is releasing its own, based on the Broadway production.
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“I love heights, I love flying, I love the air and I love the freedom, so I was super excited when they said they were going to fly us. I had never done that before,” said Thackray.
“The harness is really difficult to get on, then we get checked to make sure everything is comfortable. I think I’m in the air the longest out of everyone; I think it’s about five to seven minutes.”
The play also gives the audience a chance to learn more about the iconic characters.
“I think it really shows a depth to a lot of the characters,” said Thackray.
“Prince Eric gets a few songs. He is more brushed aside in the movie, I think, but we really get to discover his character. Ariel definitely has some moments where you listen to them and you go, ‘oh, interesting,’ because you wouldn’t have thought that her character from the movie would be like that. Same with Ursula.”
The other leading lady, a sea witch iconic villain, is larger than life — even on the stage.
“While she is just the right blend of evil she also has some of the best lines, one of them I just love,” said Nate “Hannah” Flavel, who plays Ursula.
“A woman doesn’t know how precious her voice is until she has been silenced and that line just speaks huge to me with all the stuff that’s going on.”
To honour the character’s origin, Flavel has tapped into his drag queen persona, Hannah.
“The Ursula character was actually built around Divine the drag queen in Chicago, and of course they had to cast a woman for the [Broadway] show because it was the late ’80s, early ’90s and it wasn’t a great time period to cast a drag queen in a show. And our culture has come so far and drag has made such a huge impact over the years it just seemed like a natural fit to put a drag queen in the role.”
The Little Mermaid opens August 1 and will run until the 10th at the Kelowna Community Theatre. Tickets are available now at kelownatickets.com.
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