Press Release - Little Mermaid

Northwest Children’s Theater and A-WOL Aerial Dance Dive into Original Adaptation of The Little Mermaid!

Friday, April 3, 2015

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NWCT's 22nd Season ends with a splash! This musical tale of a girl longing for life above the waves travels deep under the sea and high into the air with a touch of circus performance, a dash of vaudeville, and the help of the A-WOL Dance Collective! An NWCT World Premiere Adaptation!

The story begins when Ariel, high school senior Annie Willis appearing in her fifth NWCT performance, starts to realize that she doesn’t quite fit into her undersea home. She is surrounded by her graceful sisters, who include an Andrews Sisters inspired trio played by Maddy Ross, Signe Larsen, and Chrissy Kelly-Petit and A-WOL silk-dancers Kelsie Young, Lacey McGraw, and Paulina Muñoz. Ariel lacks their gift for music and underwater acrobatics, leading her to seek out the help of a mysterious sea witch (Jenny Bunce), who casts a spell allowing Ariel to leave the sea and venture on to dry land in search of the Prince (Brendan Long).

All of this is told against the backdrop of high-flying aerial silk-dancing, comedic nods to classic vaudeville, playful choreography from NWCT’s Artistic Director Sarah Jane Hardy. The Little Mermaid is the fourth new work commissioned by NWCT from the creative team of Milo Mowery and Rodolfo Ortega, who previously collaborated on NWCT’s smash hit Peter Pan.

The Little Mermaid marks the directorial debut of John Ellingson, NWCT’s Associate Artistic Director. Ellingson has been a mainstay at the children’s theater for many years performing, designing, painting, and co-directing countless productions. A clown by training, he was interested in bringing a lively, physical performance style to this ocean adventure.

“The first question you have to answer when adapting Mermaid is how you’re going to do ‘underwater,’” says Ellingson. “Our Ariel doesn’t have a tail, so a lot of the setting is being communicated through the actor’s physicality.”

It was this challenge that led the creative team to approach the A-WOL Dance Collective, a Portland-based aerial dance company. Ellingson collaborated with A-WOL previously to create aerial choreography for 2013’s production of Seussical, but this is the first the first NWCT show to feature actual A-WOL performers.

The Little Mermaid will also feature NWCT’s second Sensory Friendly Performance this season. Featuring shorter run-times, no intermission, reduced or removed lighting and sound cues, and the constant presence of house lights, these performances are specially designed for children on the autism spectrum or with other sensory sensitivities. Based on work done by the Kennedy Center, these performances are accompanied by a unique Social Story to help guide families through the entire theater experience from parking lot to the final bows. NWCT's 2014-15 Season offers two Sensory Friendly Performances free of charge (one for The Jungle Book and one for The Little Mermaid) thanks to generous funding from The Oregon Cultural Trust and Umpqua Bank.

The Little Mermaid is produced in part through the support of the Collins Foundation, Regional Arts and Culture Council and Work for Art, Kafoury & McDougal, K12 Oregon Virtual Academy, Schwabe, Williamson, & Wyatt, the Oregon Arts Commission, and NWCT Donor Circle Members. More than 5,000 school children will travel under the sea with Ariel and friends during twelve student matinee performances. Saturday audiences can enjoy delicious treats from the recently re-opened Saint Cupcake!



Online sales available at

WHEN: April 25 - May 25, 2015

SHOW TIMES: See website

WHERE: NW Neighborhood Cultural Center • 1819 NW Everett Street, Portland • Participants pick up their event programs and start tour here.

TICKETS: 503-222-4480 or online at

INFO: 503-222-4480 or


Release Date: April 3, 2015

Kill Date: May 26, 2015

Media Contact: To set up interviews or discuss other possibilities for feature stories, please contact: Marri-Beth Serritella, Sucha Production, Inc. at 503-528-1370 or




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