GUIZERIX: Take a trip ‘Under the Sea’ this weekend with Vicksburg Theater Guild

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, July 19, 2023

My husband and I took our soon-to-be 3-year-old to her first stage play last Friday evening, indulging in the Vicksburg Theater Guild’s performance of “The Little Mermaid Jr.”

While I was unsure of how our rambunctious, active toddler would react to being in a theater for a live performance, I never should have doubted her ability to pay attention to such a fun, family friendly show. Being a “Jr.” performance of the beloved Disney story, there were some necessary changes to the plot.

For example, Ursula, the villain expertly played by veteran VTG actress Gabby Andrews, was not impaled by the bow of a ship. There was no wedding scene, instead replaced with an equally comedic and chaotic dating game. But no matter the changes, the hit songs we all know and love were there along with a few new ones.

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I was amazed at my child’s reaction to the stage play, from her enthusiasm over seeing characters like Flounder, Scuttle and her beloved Ariel. A couple of scenes into the play, and she was able to discern which music and lighting schemes corresponded to which characters.

At one point, during a brief intermission, she even tapped a gentleman on the shoulder who was sitting in front of us and said, “Excuse me, sir, can you start the show again?”

Because this is a family show — and because the cast is entirely children and teenagers — I wasn’t too worried about my daughter’s tendency to forget her inside voice, especially with so many other little ones in the audience. In true Broadway fashion, there were ample opportunities for the audience to applaud after the big song-and-dance numbers.

“Under the Sea,” the big ensemble number led by the crab Sebastian, was a personal favorite, as it had my child and others dancing in the aisles. “Part of Your World,” the ballad sung by Ariel, warmed my heart as my baby sat in my lap and sang along to every word.

The play itself is a sight to behold. I was amazed that young performers could pull off such a well-produced performance — and understand that this coming weekend’s cast is made up of even younger children.

But perhaps more exciting than the play was what happened afterward. As we exited the Parkside Playhouse, cast members were crowded in the lobby to greet fans and loved ones. My baby made a beeline for Ariel, who bent down to her eye level, gave her a hug and made her feel like the only person in the room.

Ariel even complimented her pink sandals.

It might seem like a small moment on a whirlwind opening night for Ariel and the rest of the cast, but it made my little girl’s face light up and she talked about meeting Ariel for the rest of the weekend. She fell asleep asking, “Mama, can we go see Ariel tomorrow?”

“The Little Mermaid Jr.” will run again on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday at 2 p.m. I encourage you to attend, and take the little ones in your life.