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The City Journals

Herriman makes ‘Little Mermaid’ part of its world

Jul 26, 2017 12:22PM ● By Kelly Cannon

Eric and Ariel enjoy a romantic evening during the production of “The Little Mermaid.” (James Crane/Herriman Arts Council)

By Kelly Cannon | [email protected]
For its annual summer show, the Herriman Arts Council brought the underwater world to the stage with its production of “The Little Mermaid.” Based on the Disney movie, the musical featured a large cast and many technical feats.
Directed by Stephen Kerr of the Herriman Arts Council, the iconic musical was chosen for the summer show because of the community of young families living in Herriman.
“We’ve always tried to do shows that appeal to that audience,” Kerr said. “Also, it’s a popular show, and we felt that it was something that not only would be appealing to the residents of Herriman but also to the broader community.”
Kerr said it’s always challenging to cast a show as iconic as “The Little Mermaid” because it often depends on who shows up for auditions. When it came to casting Ariel, there were definite traits Kerr was looking for.
“We were looking for someone who could portray that, that sense of adventure, someone who is headstrong,” Kerr said. “Those were important and then ultimately, it’s a very tough role as far as singing. They have to be able to sing “Part of Your World (Reprise)” and be able to hit those notes and belt that and have it be something that our audiences are able to connect with.”
The show is a technically challenging feat with a big cast, large set pieces and the need to convey things are happening underwater. To create a sense of magic, a flight system was brought in to physically lift cast members into the air.
“We wanted to create that underwater atmosphere of having various characters be able to swim and be able to create that magic,” Kerr said. “They will be lots of swimming from several different characters.”
Kerr described “The Little Mermaid” as having a sense of joy and contains elements that people can relate to in their own personal lives.
“It’s family relationships, certainly father daughter relationships between Ariel and King Triton—learning to let go of your children as they grow and get older and the challenges of that,” Kerr said. “It really is something that the whole family can come and have an experience that is a whole evening of magic. It’s a great family show.”
Adam Millington played the role of Prince Eric. This was Millington’s first show in Herriman, but he had worked with Kerr in the past.
“(Kerr) wants us to be so good and he pushes us,” Millington said. “As a director, he looks beyond the big parts and pulls out the small aspects of the show that are impactful. I really appreciate that. It helps me feel connects to the show and helps me feel like we’re doing something worthwhile.”
Millington said he was excited to play Eric, describing the character as a confused young boy.
“His parents have both recently passed away, and he’s conflicted between wanting to be a fun-loving youthful kid and the responsibility of running a kingdom,” he said.
Performing in the show was a challenge for Millington because a week before the show, he tripped and fell on stage, breaking his elbow and damaging a hip and rib. He was able to pull through and perform.
The role of Ariel was played by Emily Taylor Wells, who had played the role of Belle in the Herriman Arts Council’s production of “Beauty and the Beast” two years ago. Wells said “The Little Mermaid” is one of her favorite shows and was intrigued by the idea of playing Ariel in a way that hadn’t been done before.
“I think a lot of people think Ariel is airheaded and kind of not the brightest bulb,” Wells said. “But I thought it’d be interesting to see Ariel who is played kind of fun and goofy cause I think that’s kind of her charm.”
Barton Sloan played the role of Sebastian. Sloan is a dentist in the area who became aware of the show when working on a patient.
“The dad was in the corner, and we got to talking about how we both did theater in high school,” Sloan said. “He was looking on his phone and he said, ‘Herriman is doing “Little Mermaid.” Why don’t you audition?’ I said, ‘I will if you will.’”
Sloan described Sebastian as a loveable character that everyone remembers.
“He’s loveable while caring and fretting for Ariel,” Sloan said. “And he has the best songs. That’s what it boils down to.”