After its first preview on Broadway recently, composer Alan Menken talked to with Rotten Tomatoes about the difficulties of bringing Disney’s classic film The Little Mermaid to the theatre. “I really hadn’t thought about Mermaid for the stage, for the challenge of being under the sea. As everyone knows, that was one of the difficulties. But once Francesca Zambello started working with George Tsypin — his sets use light in this brilliant way that takes it on to look aquatic or look like the sea, along with all the other stage craft that is available to us — then it became possible.” Along with the original songs by Menken and Howard Ashman, ten new songs have been penned by Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater (Home on the Range).
Also, Mermaid choreographer Stephen Mear talks with the New York Times about the challenges he faced in trying to come up with a way to make the dancers move as freely as fish under the sea. “You canâ€™t dance in roller skates. You canâ€™t do a jetÃ© or a pirouette. Flying is no good either. Wires are a nightmare choreographically. I was desperate to find a language that would keep the actors on the floor”. On a trip to Disneyland he found the answer when a child whizzed past him wearing shoes with a wheel in the heel. “I literally chased after him and asked his parents what he was wearing on his feet… You can walk. You can glide. You can turn. You can spin. You can jump. Once I saw them, I knew.”
The Little Mermaid opens on Broadway on January 10, 2008.