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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Review: Theatre MSU presents ‘The Little Mermaid’

Theatre MSU presented their first play of the season last Saturday. Children, adults and Mississippi State University students filled seats in the McComas Hall theater to watch “The Little Mermaid” come to life.
When hearing the title “The Little Mermaid” people tend to envision the Disney version of this classic fairytale.
However, Theatre MSU chose to perform Linda Daugherty’s adaptation of the original Hans Christian Anderson story.
This version contains darker elements and lacks the singing sea creatures Disney incorporated into their animated version.
Director Tim Matheny said they were aware people would have preconceived notions about what “The Little Mermaid” is about because of the Disney movie, but he hoped the play would exceed the audience’s expectations.
“One of our goals was to help people realize that this literature comes from somewhere else, and that it didn’t originate from Disney,” Matheny said. “We wanted people to hear more of the original story.”
Despite any possible concerns, the audience was very receptive to this version of the “The Little Mermaid.” People of all ages were moved throughout the performance, showing their feelings with gasps, laughter and applause throughout the performance.
Pearl, the titular little mermaid, was brought to life by Abbigail Radius. Her performance was overflowing with life and perfectly captured the youthful spirit associated with “The Little Mermaid.”
Radius’s fluid, fish-like mannerisms, giddy laughter and teenage melodramatics carried the play and drew the audience in to this version of the classic story.
Prince Stefan, played by freshman theatre major Chris Hillhouse, also caught the audience’s attention with his lively performance. Hillhouse captured the driven and energetic personality of Prince Stefan and acted alongside Radius flawlessly.
Overall, Matheny said he was thrilled to see how the actors and actresses performed.
“We try to be diverse in our casting,” Matheny said. “There were some students who had never been on stage before and some who were seasoned actors. I was really pleased how everyone grew and took a step forward.”
Along with Radius’ and Hillhouse’s performances, the rest of the cast put on an excellent show which resulted in major applause. Not only was the acting engaging, but the set also brought the story to life before the audience’s eyes.
Designing a play where the setting shifts from underwater to land is a challenge. Matheny said he was aware of such problems and felt, in the end, it all came together seamlessly.
“It was a very challenging show,” Matheny said. “From costumes to lights to set and props—even the puppets—we were not exactly sure how it was going to work, and we all had to research how to best put it together. I’m very pleased with how each aspect of the play turned out.”
In order to transition from showing underwater life to life above the surface, Theatre MSU built three panels of waves that went all the way across the stage. These waves could be lowered and raised at any point to provide the visual effect of rising to the surface or going underwater.
Austin Howeth, MSU senior and communication major who played the role of Timothy, said creating a life-like and functional set was the hardest challenge to overcome.
“Building the scenery was the biggest challenge we overcame,” Howeth said. “There was a lot scenery and a lot of moving parts that we had to put together.”
The play also incorporated the use of backlights to emphasis when characters were traveling to the depths of the ocean to visit the sea witch.
These black lights illuminated costumes, props and the set. It added another level of visual depth to the entire performance.
Using puppeteers to control fish puppets was an interesting way to include sea creatures in the play. At first, it was a little distracting to see a person in all black run across the stage carrying a fish on a stick, but eventually, it became another normal and engaging element of the play.
Between the cast and the set design, everyone in the audience left the theater raving about the performance and congratulated the cast on a job well-done.
“Theatre MSU always puts on great shows,” Howeth said. “They look amazing, beautiful and the talent blows people away. I really encourage everyone to attend.”

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Review: Theatre MSU presents ‘The Little Mermaid’