From Script to Stage: The Little Mermaid Choreography

Arkansas Repertory Theatre's production of The Little Mermaid. photos by STEPHEN B. THORNTON

Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production of The Little Mermaid.

In our production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, many design elements come together to create the lively world that takes audiences on a magical voyage. From the breathtaking costumes and set to the props and classic score, our production of The Little Mermaid is fit for an underwater paradise.

Something else that adds a lot of pizzazz and gusto to our production of this Disney classic is the choreography, masterminded by Choreographer Adam Cates.

See what he had to say about the dance styles you’ll see onstage and how the incredible aerial stunts – created by 2 Ring Circus – will be incorporated into this underwater adventure!

Memphis Monday: All About the Cast

With Memphis on The Rep’s MainStage right now, we thought it would be fun to showcase some of the cool backgrounds of some of the actors and where you might have seen them before they made it to our stage!

We will starDanielMcDonaldHeadshotMemphist off with Daniel McDonald (White DJ/Mr. Collins/White Father/Gordon Grant/US Mr. Simmons). While he has spent a lot of time in the theatre world, performing in national touring productions like Grease, Singin’ in the Rain and Chorus Line and a variety of regional plays, he also has a few TV credits to his name, including Sex and the City on HBO, along with The Carrie Diaries on the CW and The Affair.

BillNewhallHeadshotMemphisBill Newhall (Mr. Simmons) is another one who has played a few parts on TV. The longtime actor who has appeared on Broadway in Something Wonderful! and Off-Broadway in productions such as Wuthering Heights, Anna Karenina, Walk on the Wildwise, plus tons more, has rounded out several soap operas, including All My Children (ABC), One Life to Live (Online Network), Another World (NBC) and As the World Turns (CBS).


Tatiana Green (Ensemble/”Someday” Backup Singer) has a long background in dance, training at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Ballet Hispanico. In addition to being a performer on Carnival Cruise Lines and dance instructor, she has worked with world-renowned dancer Aszure Barton on Dance Dance Revolution, named for the super-popular dance video game.



J Nycole Ralph (Ethel/”Someday” Backup Singer/Ensemble /US Felicia) has workedJNycoleRalphHeadshotMemphis on several productions, including the Broadway tour of West Side Story and the original production of Elements. Additionally, the actress has been involved in film, working alongside Chris Rock in Finally Famous and other projects with big stars such as Adam Sandler, Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Seinfeld, Rosario Dawson, Ice-T, Deirdre Goodwin and many others.


JamesRobertsHeadshotMemphisJames Roberts (Ensemble/”Be Black Trio/US Gator) has crossed international lines for his theatrical performing,acting in the Diana Paulus-directed national revival of Hair in the United States, Canada and Japan. Aside from his theatre experience, he stepped out on his own when his solo cabaret show premiered in summer 2013 in New York City.



Ryan Farnsworth (Ensemble/Perry Como/US Huey) has appeared in several Off-Broadway productions, including Candide, Never Let it Go and Zombie Strippers-The Musical. In addition to being a part of the national Jingle Bell Rock tour, Ryan has recorded several songs with Disney Records, Get Bizzy Records and Niagara Records, and has performed in several award-winning independent films.

Read more about these performers and the rest of the talented cast of Memphis here!

SMTI Junior Session: Q&A with Elena McKinnis


The 2014 Summer Intensive Theatre Musical program is drawing to a close this weekend with three performances of Godspell performed by the junior class.

And one of the many dedicated young performers you will see onstage is Pulaski Academy 10th grader Elena McKinnis, 15, who hopes to continue her theatrical and dancing career beyond high school.

We had the chance to talk with this longtime ballet dancer about her experience with the summer program, her future goals in dance and how she has improved over the years.

Here is what she had to say:

When did you get started in theatre?  I started in theatre when I was about 11– it was my first year in SMTI. I had gone to see Follie Holidays the year before and I decided to audition the next year.

How has SMTI helped your theatre skills? It has really opened me up a lot. I’ve gained a lot of confidence through this program. When I first started, I was more of a dancer–because I’ve been dancing since I was three– so I’ve seen myself before, but through SMTI, I realized I can sing and I can do a monologue and speak in front of people, so it’s helped me just open up to everything.

There are quite a few students in SMTI. Do you think you will have any lasting friendships from the program? Most definitely! A lot of the people I’ve met through SMTI I probably wouldn’t have met. One of my best friends lives in Cabot and I probably wouldn’t have met her without this program.

You’ve been rehearsing for last few days for the upcoming performances of Godspell this weekend. What role will you be playing?  I’m mainly a part of the ensemble but I’m in a couple of the dance numbers and am one of the lead vocalists in the Godspell song “By My Side.” In the senior session production, I had a lot of dance solos.

What are some other productions people might have seen you in the last few years? I’ve done all the SMTI shows the last five years– Project elan and Singin’ on a Star were the most recent ones. I’ve also done Ballet Arkansas’ Nutcracker down at the Robinson Auditorium and I’ve also participated in the Arkansas Festival Ballet productions.

Do you plan on pursuing theatre or dance beyond high school? I plan on going to college [in California] and trying to make it as a dancer because I’ve been doing it my whole life and it’s just something I want to try and do. I’ve recently been taking a lot of hip hop classes, so I’ve been leaning toward that. Dance is my life– it’s what I do.

Are you excited about this weekend’s production? I am. It’s going to be so much fun! Doing the senior show with all of the older kids and then working with the juniors, it’s been such an amazing experience. It’s been an amazing opportunity for me!

Do you plan on being a part of SMTI throughout high school? I’m going to try to do SMTI throughout high school. Beyond that, I’ve thought about being a choreographer like Marisa Kirby– she’s the choreographer for director Nicole Capri. I’ve thought about doing something like that.

Why should young performers interested in theatre be a part of SMTI? It’s an amazing program. It’s a great opportunity for people to come and really work with a really good director and get that experience.

See her in this weekend’s productions of Godspell, alongside many other talented students! Call the Box Office at (501) 378-0405 to get your tickets for any one of the performances, which are at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1, and 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2.