There is more than just a little Broadway magic lending an air of excitement to the DeSoto Family Theatre production of "The Little Mermaid," which premieres on the Landers Center Stage Feb. 17.
The production runs through March 5 at Landers Center Theater in Southaven.
Cody Hanford, the smash hit Broadway musical's original "Flounder" is helping to choreograph the show.
Broadway set designer Daniel Mueller, co-scenic designer, helped to design and craft the elaborate set, along with Michael Crum. The set, which includes an entire undersea kingdom, a ship and a castle, was built by Dan Lehman, a local star in his own right, and a host of volunteers and crew.
Todd Adamson, who portrays "Prince Eric" in the lead role opposite Ashley McCormack, who plays "Ariel," has also appeared in the Broadway footlights.
The New York City resident and Equity Actor is making his first appearance in a show in Mississippi.
"Ashley and I did the Wedding Singer at Red Mountain five years ago," said Adamson, a native of Charleston, S.C. "She asked me if I would like to add Prince Eric as one of the roles I have played on stage."
McCormack's Southern charm convinced him to take the part and Adamson said he now relishes the role.
The musical, which broke all records on Broadway, was a hit because it has an uplifting message, according to Adamson, who received the 2015 Los Angeles Ovation Award for Best Lead Actor.
"I think it will be a great escape for people with everything going on right now," said Adamson, alluding to the current political unrest and tension in the country.
The message of "The Little Mermaid" is that people can rise to any purpose or goal they might set for themselves, regardless of the odds.
"Ariel is a rebel who is going against everything that people want her to do," Adamson said. "Ariel is harassed by her sisters and her father, King Triton, wants her to fall in line. In the end, Triton accepts his kid for who she is."
McCormack agreed. "It's inspiring that she is the heroine at the end, which is different than in the film," McCormack said. "For me, the role of Ariel is about following your heart."
McCormack has been acting on the DFT stage for more than 17 years.
Veteran DFT actress Randi Sluder plays the wicked Ursula. Sluder is best known to DFT patrons as having starring roles in "Steel Magnolias," "The Secret Garden," "South Pacific", "Thoroughly Modern Millie" "Beauty and the Beast" and "To Kill A Mockingbird," among others.
Sluder said she enjoys her role immensely.
"I think it's because I teach school and I have to be good and set a good example," Sluder said. "In this (production), I get to be a villain. Although she is a villain, she is a funny villain. I love playing the part."
Cordell Turner of Horn Lake plays underwater sidekick "Sebastian," and he affects his lines with a truly convincing Jamaican accent.
Turner, who most recently appeared on the DFT stage in "Oklahoma!" said he, too, is having a ball as his character on stage.
"It's a great deal of fun," Turner said. "I hope everyone will come out and see it."
For more information about Disney's "The Little Mermaid," being performed by DFT and produced by Ashely McCormack, visit dftonline.org.
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.