September Song Musical Theatre went under the sea to find a show where they could celebrate 45 years of local theatre.
Producers say their production of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” is a showcase for performers who are “exceptionally talented with their vocals." The costumes were custom-made and designed just for this production.
The show runs for four days, Sept. 5-8. The Thursday and Friday shows are both at 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday boast two shows at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. The Sunday matinee show will include American Sign Language interpretation. All performances take place at the Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main Street, Westminster.
Allen Cross, who is co-executive producer alongside Joan Eichhorn, said the group has drawn large crowds before with well-known, family-friendly shows like “Mary Poppins” and “Beauty and the Beast.” He expects “The Little Mermaid” to fit right in.
“We knew that it was going to be a good show that anyone would like to see, young or old,” he said.
Ariel, the show’s protagonist, is a mermaid and the youngest daughter of a king. Drawn to the foreign world on land and the human Prince Eric, she agrees to a bargain with the sea witch Ursula. Ursula gives Ariel legs, but soon her evil motivations become clear. With the help of her friends, Ariel must save not only herself, but the whole of her father’s kingdom under the sea.
The Disney film on which the Broadway musical is based is known for its musical score, and the stage production is no different, with music by eight-time Academy Award winner, Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater.
For September Song, Debbie Mobley directs the show. Kelly Stoneberger serves as musical director and Amy Appleby serves as choreographer.
The cast is made up of 38 actors. Something new for September Song was the choice to double cast the lead role of Ariel. After auditions, two actors stuck out for the part. They chose to cast both women as Ariel and have them alternate the role on show nights. On nights when they are not the lead, each actor is a part of the ensemble.
Cross said that the two Ariels are good friends in real life, and have helped each other learn the part during the rehearsal process.
The show’s designers have also put in hard work for the performance. None of the costumes are rented, so every piece on stage is conceptualized by Costumer Barb Szaro. Many pieces, including the mermaid costumes, are handmade from scratch.
Part of the story takes place underwater, and moves onto land, a tall order for any set builder. Cross said, “there’s all kinds of trick that we’ve got up our sleeves that the production staff has come up with. It’s going to make for an event that people have not seen before in a community theatre space."
As September Song celebrates their 45th anniversary, Cross said that many of the cast members and production staff often return year after year, creating a family atmosphere within the productions.
In the community, many come to expect the September Song production each summer. “We’ve got people who have been coming, some possibly since 1974, people that have brought their children and now are bringing their grandchildren. So there’s a lot of passion,” he said.
September Song is lauded in the Maryland theatre scene. Their production of “Anything Goes” in 2018 was the winner in six categories at the 2018 BroadwayWorld Baltimore Awards, including Best Ensemble. They took home more awards than any other production. DC Metro Theatre Arts ranked the show among it’s staff picks for 2018.