Nashville Children’s Theatre’s production of “The Little Mermaid” is full of Belmont students and alumni, including the little mermaid herself.
The cast learned the music and choreography in three weeks, but the short rehearsal time did not have an effect on the show’s quality. The harmonies and dances were so tight that it seemed as if the cast had been rehearsing for months.
Belmont alumna Catherine Birdsong plays the curious and adorable Ariel. Birdsong’s performance enraptured the children in the audience, and they whispered her name whenever she swam onstage.
For Birdsong, her training at Belmont prepared her to adapt quickly, she said.
Her voice had all the charm and spunk of Jodi Benson’s original performance in the 1989 film.
“All of the ear-training and piano lessons have helped me to be able to learn music really quickly,” said Birdsong.
Lexie McEntire, who plays Triton’s daughter Atina, is a senior musical theatre major at Belmont. Like Birdsong, McEntire is grateful for the training she’s received at Belmont, especially for the program’s emphasis on technique and vocal health, she said.
“Doing twelve shows a week is very different than anything I’ve ever done. It’s very taxing,” said McEntire. “Knowing how to sustain that is really helpful.”
Jack Tanzi, a senior theatre major plays evil eel Flotsam, with a hilarious, high voice and silly, exaggerated movements.
For Tanzi, the most important thing he’s learned from Belmont is professionalism, he said.
“All the classes that we’re required to take that may sometimes feel like a pain in the butt are just our faculty preparing us for the real world,” said Tanzi.
The Theatre and Dance Department and musical theatre program have worked with McEntire and Tanzi, so they can perform on weekdays for field trips and homeschool groups.
The show also features 2012 Belmont alumna Piper Jones, who graduated with a commercial voice degree. Jones plays the sea witch Ursula with a strong belt and farcical facial expressions.
Isaac Brotzman, a 2016 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in musical theatre, plays the adorably oblivious seagull, Scuttle. Brotzman’s performance is short but memorable. He maneuvers his puppet expertly.
The show’s musical director is David Weinstein, who is currently enrolled in Belmont’s graduate commercial composition and arranging program. Weinstein’s direction resulted in beautiful, clean harmonies and a remarkable performance from the orchestra.
Students who go to “The Little Mermaid” to support their fellow Belmont students and alumni are in for a treat.
The show is full of creatively designed costumes and props – the puppets in particular — a minimal but visually stunning set and an engaging cast.
The showruns until December 23rd, with public performances on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Photo by Michael Scott Evans, courtesy of Nashville Children’s Theatre