The Poplar Pike Playhouse is getting ready to bring some of Disney’s most iconic characters to life in the regional premiere of The Little Mermaid. While the audience gets to see the hard work of the actors every night, it’s the dedication of the technical crews that truly creates Disney magic. When the cast prepares for their roles, the technical crews are hard at work building the set, creating costumes, etc.
Based on one of Hans Christian Anderson’s most beloved stories, The Little Mermaid tells the story of Ariel, daughter of Triton King of the Sea, who falls in love with a human prince. Like any Poplar Pike Playhouse performance, The Little Mermaid not only dazzles the audience with its deep story; it dazzles its viewers with a beautiful set, incredible costumes, eccentric props, professional quality lighting, and amazing sound.
Before the actors began getting into character, the construction crew at the PPP begins working on bringing the stage under the sea. With almost every set piece being made from scratch, the crew has to work every day to make the story of The Little Mermaid come to life on stage.
“It’s really exciting being able to build a set,” says student builder Taylor Corpier “You start from nothing, then you build on that nothing and you make it something amazing.”
But the construction crew isn’t the only one hard at work at the PPP. The costume crew started cutting fabric and sewing outfits the moment the cast was announced. With 29 actors, the costume crew spends almost every day in the Poplar Pike Playhouse costume room making beautiful sea creature costumes by hand for each and every performer in the musical.
“It’s an amazing experience being able to make costumes,” says costume crew chairman Jasmine Saulsberry, “The actors can only portray their characters so much, the costumes let you physically see the character and make the show come to life.”
There are some students at the Poplar Pike Playhouse, that work as a member of the cast and a member of a technical crew. Sara Mayers plays the role of Ursula in the show, but she also a member of the costume crew. Sara not only holds both positions with dedication and hard work, she has the opportunity to create her own costume for Ursula.
“I love getting to make my character’s costume,” says Mayers, “It helps me get into character both mentally and physically and makes me appreciate the show and the work that goes into it even more.”
As busy as the costume crew is, they aren’t the only crew at the PPP creating magic from scratch day after day. Prop Chairman Latavia Williams and the rest of her crew have been working since day one, handcrafting prop pieces to create the depth the musical demands.
“You have to think outside of the box to make props,” says Williams, “Some props are made from scratch, and others are made from other props so you have to get creative, but the end result creates this essence of realism that the actors can’t create on their own.”
However, all the creativity that goes into the show doesn’t just come from the props crew. The lighting crew has to work with the cast and other crews to do what they do best. Lighting Director Connor Sackett and his lighting crew have been constantly planning and testing lights since the musical was announced.
“Each show is unique with its own lighting,” says Sackett, “So there is no real set way to do lighting and we have to creative; and from that creativity we can make the stage come to life.”
Every crew gets to showcase their efforts to the eyes of the public except for one. The sound crew at the Poplar Pike Playhouse has been working hard to make The Little Mermaid the best it can be.
“Sound is the one thing you don’t get to see, but without it the show feels empty” says Sound Director Hayley Walsh, “Our job is to create the realism the show requires without the audience even realizing.”
The Little Mermaid opens February 25th and runs through March 12th. For more information or to reserve and buy tickets, call the Poplar Pike Playhouse Box Office at (901) 755-7775 or visit PPP.org. To keep up with the latest news, follow the Playhouse on Facebook, Instagram (poplarpikeplayhouse), or Twitter (@ppptheatre).