By Matthew Blank
and Ikey Canoy
30 Jan 2012
When Playbill.com approached us asking for a little behind-the-scenes peek, I was uber-excited to give you a look into what makes a Philippine theatre production from an insider point-of-view. Also, a taste of all the zany things that happened in rehearsals and over at Meralco Theater, where we ran for over 22 shows last November through December.
Also, equal parts manic, fun and hardly ever serious, this is my attempt at giving you all a special peek into the making of Atlantis Production’s run of Disney’s The Little Mermaid here in the Philippines. Our belated Christmas gift to you all – ENJOY!
“MALIGAYANG PASKO AT MANIGONG BAGONG TAON!”
(MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!)
The Manila production of Disney's The Little Mermaid took a new approach to the musical, incorporating Eastern and Western styles of design and puppetry to delineate its unique worlds.
Bobby Garcia, who has staged Next to Normal, Xanadu and Avenue Q for Atlantis Productions, directed The Little Mermaid alongside Chari Arespacochaga.
The Manila engagement was among the first stagings of the musical since its Broadway run in 2008. A U.S. national tour had been announced, but never surfaced. Music Theatre International licenses the property.
Garcia and Arespacochaga have conceived a production in which the undersea kingdom were designed using traditional Asian elements and the above-water world will be Western in theme. The Little Mermaid incorporated puppetry ranging from Wayang shadow play, bunraku, nang kaloung and Western hand puppetry. Liz and Benny Batoctoy and Sam Fuentes designed and created the puppetry for the production.
The Little Mermaid in Manila featured Rachelle Ann Go and Erik Santos, as Ariel and Prince Eric, respectively. Also in the cast were OJ Mariano as Sebastian, Calvin Millado as King Triton, Jinky Llamanzares as Ursula,Ikey Canoy as Scuttle, Lee Viloria as Flounder, Felix Rivera as Flotsam and Jamie Barcelon as Jetsam.
The production boasted choreography by Cecile Martinez, set design by Lex Marcos, costume design by Erik Pineda and lighting design by Jay Aranda.
The Little Mermaid features songs penned by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman for the Disney film ("Part of Your World," "Under the Sea," "Kiss the Girl," among others) as well as ten new tunes by Menken and Glenn Slater. Doug Wright (I Am My Own Wife, Grey Gardens) wrote the book.