Most are familiar with the tail, so to say, of a pretty young mermaid named Ariel who falls in love with a prince, to her father's dismay.
“The Little Mermaid,” a Disney classic, opens the 49th season of The Theatre in the Park June 8 and runs through June 16. This is the first time the show has been produced on The Theatre stage in Shawnee Mission Park.
Ariel is played by Alexa Morgan, a junior at St. James Academy. Prince Eric is portrayed by Zach Smith, a graduate of Blue Valley High School and Wichita State University. Both live in Lenexa.
“This is a story of a young woman struggling to live her own life. She is willing to give up her identity and existence under the sea to follow her dreams to gain a human soul,” said Director Mark Swezey.
Morgans was thrilled to get the role of Ariel in the production.
“I always wanted to be a princess and meet a prince,” she said, adding that her favorite scenes are in the second act.
"Ariel is ecstatic about having legs and being human. The prince takes her to his castle and teaches her to dance,” Alexa said.
Another highlight was singing “Part of Your World,” which takes place after Ariel has saved Eric from drowning and realizes she's fallen in love.
Her most recent shows at The Theatre in the Park are “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” “Mary Poppins” and “Camp Rock.”
Smith is back at The Theater in the Park after a seven-year absence.
After he graduated from Wichita State with a degree in musical theater and a minor in dance, he went to work at Disneyland.
“I’m partial to Disney; anything Disney I love,” Smith said with a laugh. “When I saw 'The Little Mermaid' was on The Theatre’s summer schedule, I wanted to be part of it. It’s always nice to be a prince.”
Smith is a fifth-generation employee in his family’s business, working as a business development coordinator. Now that he's back, he hopes to be more involved at The Theatre.
In all Disney productions there must be a villain. Enter Ursula, the sea witch.
Taking advantage of Ariel’s naivety and her desire to be a human, Ursula tricks her into a deal: She will use her magic to turn Ariel into a human for three days during which she must win a kiss of true love from Eric.
Ursula is played by Kristi Mitchell, a music teacher at The Barstow School and an experienced stage performer. She lives in Overland Park.
King Triton is portrayed by Matt Wahlberg, from Olathe, who’s in his 15th show at The Theatre in the Park.
“I’ve had a family member with me in all of them,” Wahlberg said. His daughter, Willa, 15, is in the ensemble of “The Little Mermaid.” Wahlberg has been an elementary school physical education teacher in the Olathe School district 16 years.
“The most challenging part of my role as King is having to act so angry with Ariel because she wants to be a human,” Wahlberg said.
But as in most fairy tales there is a happy ending, and the actors in “The Little Mermaid” hope for crowds to come see it.
Tickets cost $8 for adults and $6 for youth. Children 3 and under may attend for free but need a ticket to enter. Reserved seats and parking also are available. Tickets may be purchased online at www.theatreinthepark.org or starting at 6:30 p.m. at the box office on performance nights.
“The Little Mermaid,” June 8-10 and June 13-16.
“South Pacific,” June 22-24 and 27-30.
“Into The Woods,” July 6- 8 and 11-14.
“The Addams Family,” July 20-22 and 26-29.
“Disney’s High School Musical,” Aug. 3-5 and 8-11.
Curtain time is 8:30 p.m.