Next Spring's Musical Will Transport Us Under The Sea
“Many shows have a single female ‘star vehicle’ but not necessarily a multitude of other parts for women,” she says. “That was the primary thing I searched for.”
Next year, the Hendrix Chenault Theater will take a trip “Under the Sea” for the spring musical production of Little Mermaid! The show, which was chosen by Director and Head of the Musical Theater Program Natalie Pitchford, was announced in the final weeks of April by a magical deep sea video. When it came to choosing the show, Mrs. Pitchford was sure to consider the feedback of students, specifically “to choose a show that really showcases women,” she says. However, this is easier said than done. “Many shows have a single female ‘star vehicle’ but not necessarily a multitude of other parts for women,” she says. “That was the primary thing I searched for.”
In that same vein, it was also very important to choose a show “with strong female characters, something that portrays women as intelligent and strong,” she says. My favorite line in all of The Little Mermaid, for many years, has been "Bright young women, sick of swimmin', ready to stand," and I think that is so relevant and important right now, and a message I want young girls to embrace, including my daughter.”
During the show selection process, Mrs. Pitchford started by narrowing down choices based on instinct. From there she ordered something called perusal copies. “These are just scripts and scores that are sent to me for a limited amount of time from the licensing company for me to read. I listen to the show and I look very closely at the score to see what the demands are, musically and vocally,” she says. Finally, Mrs. Pitchford considers what the “Big Challenge” is for a show.
Next Musical’s “Big Challenge” will be Heelys! Yes, you heard me right. “Ariel of course, Flounder, her sisters, and some of the underwater creatures will have them,” says Mrs. Pitchford. The shoes on wheels will help the show’s “swimming” characters move more convincingly as if they were in water. Mrs. Pitchford says that knowing how to use Heelys will offer “a leg up” but they won't discount someone if they don't know how. “If someone auditions and can move - or shows potential for movement - we will work with them,” she says.
Not only will students be learning how to use Heelys, but director Pitchford and Choreographer Mrs. Metzger will have to literally jump into students shoes to choreograph and block the shows. “I imagine the first few weeks of bootcamp and rehearsal will be somewhat hilarious,” she says. Hopefully, the show will also be that funny, but for different reasons of course!