For its spring show, the Lafayette Ballet Company is ready to take its audience under the sea for its interpretation of Hans Christian Anderson’s classic love story “The Little Mermaid.”
Ballet company artistic director Amy Orr said the dancers have been preparing for the show since the end of “The Nutcracker” in December.
“It’s a nice big challenge to go from Christmas is Nuremburg to something so different,” Orr said. “Just about every Saturday or Sunday, the dancers have been here and we have three to a dozen people in and out working (on costumes and sets.)”
Volunteers have created many props and updated costumes for the local group’s first production of the show to give it an under-water look.
“There is a lot of color, underwater effects, moving props, lights, 15-by-20-foot panels of corral and lots of community volunteers and partners who worked on shells,” Orr said, referring to large papier-mache oyster shells that will open to reveal young dancers as pearls in one sequence. “There are about 50 people in the cast … from second grade to high-school age.”
The show also will include two parents as the human king and queen, and guest artist Jurjis Safonovs, artistic director of the Statesboro Ballet Company, will play the human prince the little mermaid falls in love with. The story of “The Little Mermaid” revolves around the title character’s wish to become human, making a deal with the Sea Witch, in order to pursue the prince, whom she falls in love with after rescuing him from drowning.
The title character is played by Lydia Duquette with her confidant, the Sea Flower, played Mitzi Anderson. The two high school seniors have been friends since the seventh grade, so it creates natural rapport that translates to the stage, Orr said.
“It’s so fun to have my best friend in the show,” Anderson said. “And to have that natural relationship makes it natural to emote.”
The Sea Witch is played by high school senior Skye Mauldin, whose personality Orr said is completely opposite of the evil Sea Witch.
“It’s interesting to see her in character for something not at all typical of her,” Orr said.
The ballet is based more closely on the original, dark version of the tale, but Orr said there have been creative changes to make it more bright and family friendly. Every scene is filled with movement from background characters to give the illusion of underwater currents, and Orr said dancers have spent time practicing flowing movements that also convey underwater movement.
“When they’re under the sea, the dancers are supposed to be in perpetual motion, as if there is a current,” Orr said. “Usually, if dancers are off to the side they would have to stay still, but now every sea creature and attendant is constantly in motion.”
Anderson said in the first act, under the sea, that all dancers continually move in a flowing way to convey the underwater motion.
“Every move has to connect, like the movement of the ocean,” she said, adding that it’s difficult to get the movement down. “Especially coming from ‘The Nutcracker.’”
Orr said the production should offer local patrons something new in the local production company.
“It’s something different for LaGrange, not your typical ‘Swan Lake,’ ‘Sleeping Beauty’ or ‘Nutcracker,’” Orr said. “It’s a tale a lot of kids of this generation have latched onto … It has a mystical setting and the dancers have put a lot of time and effort into it.”
Lafayette Society for Performing Arts presents the Lafayette Ballet Company in “The Little Mermaid” March 15 and 16 at 7 p.m., and March 17 at 2 p.m. at the Troup High School Fine Arts Auditorium. Reserved tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students and general admission is $15 for adults and $8 for students. For more information and reserved tickets, call the LSPA at 706-882-9909.