BEAT puts on “The Little Mermaid”

35 young actors appear in Bend Experimental Art Theatre production

By David Jasper / The Bulletin

Published Apr 18, 2014 at 12:11AM

If you go

What: “The Little Mermaid”

When: 7 p.m. today and Saturday, matinee shows at 2 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Bend High School, 230 N.E. Sixth St., Bend

Cost: $15, $10 for students. Available in advance at www .beattickets.org

Contact: www.beatonline.org or 541-419-5558

Princess Ariel finds her fresh-from-the-sea legs in Bend Experimental Art Theatre’s production of “The Little Mermaid,” in performance this weekend at Bend High School (see “If you go”).

Avery Carlson stars as the lovestruck mermaid Ariel, who surrenders her swimmingly fine voice to a no-account Sea Witch so she can get her head above water long enough to land the object of her affection, landlubber Prince Eric, played by Jake Daley.

The story was, of course, originally a Hans Christian Andersen folk tale. In 1989, the magic-makers at Disney adapted it into an animated film replete with calypso and other songs sung by Ariel and various sea-dwelling creatures.

In 2008, a musical based on the Disney film landed on Broadway, and the folks at BEAT opted for that version, according to director Jimena Shepherd, who previously directed “The Pirates of Penzance” for BEAT, which trains young actors in the theater arts.

“The lyricist and composer added several numbers to that to make it, obviously, more of a musical as opposed to a Disney movie with singing, and so a lot of what you’ll see is actually stuff from the Broadway version,” Shepherd said. “Granted, because it is the junior version, we’re not doing all the music from the Broadway (version). There are … numbers that have been cut, but a lot of them will be new” to those familiar only with the movie.

The production boasts a cast of 35 ranging in age from 5 to 18.

“And I tell you what, if we had any fewer, it just wouldn’t be what it is. We needed every single kid because there’s so much going on on the stage,” Shepherd said.

“It’s a big cast. I was pretty adventurous with this one, and I didn’t know if all my ideas would pan out, but everybody just joined together to make the vision a reality, and the result is what you’re going to see in ‘The Little Mermaid,’” she said. “The kids have had an absolute blast with this, and they’re so excited to get in front of an audience and share what they’ve been working on for 12 weeks.”

Howard Schor, executive director of BEAT, said the company’s next production will be the drama “The Lord of the Flies,” slated for a 10-performance run in July at 2nd Street Theater in Bend. And in early August, kids ages 10 to 18 will create a short film in BEAT’s new filmmaking class, “To Film and Be Filmed,” just one of its summer offerings.

BEAT has planned its next season, which will include productions of the fantasy “The Hobbit,” the musical “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” and the love story “Lisa and David,” Schor said. BEAT also aims to launch a small, simple black box theater season in the fall, the location of said performances yet to be determined.

— Reporter: 541-383-0349, djasper@bendbulletin.com