News Column

Adrienne Eller lands dream role in Music Theatre production of 'The Little Mermaid'

July 10, 2014

By Will Broaddus, The Salem News, Beverly, Mass.

July 10--Adrienne Eller said hello to the Little Mermaid, long before she got to play her in the musical.

"Whenever I went to Disneyland, I waited in line to meet Ariel," she said. "We owned the VHS. I don't think I saw it in the theater, but it was one of my favorite movies growing up. I love this show and this story."

Eller is now at the other end of the line, playing Ariel in North Shore Music Theatre's production of "The Little Mermaid," which runs through July 27.

The musical opened in New York in 2008 and is based on the Disney film of 1989, which was drawn from the classic story by Hans Christian Andersen.

The musical's appearance at North Shore Music Theatre is a New England debut, said producer and theater owner Bill Hanney.

"This show has never been east of New York City," he said. "This is under the 10th time it's been done."

If Eller had to wait in line to meet Ariel at Disneyland, she also had to compete with a crowd when she auditioned for a part in "The Little Mermaid."

"I went into the open call in New York," she said. "Anyone can go, and I showed up, and there are 200 girls there."

Eller was originally cast in the play's ensemble, then to understudy the part of Ariel, before she landed the lead. That happened after associate producer Beth Vasta asked Hanney to take a look at Eller, during his third or fourth trip to New York to find an actress for the part.

"I said, 'Omigod, we have our Ariel. How did you find her?'" Hanney remembered. "She said, 'She's already in our show.' It was instant."

In her final audition, Eller sang "Part of Your World," a song from the first act. Ariel sings it after arguing with her father, the sea king Triton, who doesn't understand his daughter's desire to be part of the human world on land.

"I wanna be where the people are," Ariel sings. "Wandering free, wish I could be part of that world."

For Eller, getting the part in "Little Mermaid" is an equally momentous transition, from the world of school -- she is still a student at New York University -- to the world of professional theater.

"It's definitely the biggest accomplishment thus far in my career," she said. "I've done one professional show prior to this and that was in Michigan, 'Next to Normal.'"

Students at NYU are often too busy with course work to try out for plays off campus, she said. "I was on spring break. I thought it would be a good time to go out in the city and audition."

She enjoys being part of life in New York, which made a lasting impression during an early visit.

"The first time I visited, I was 12 years old, and I knew I needed to live here one day. ... It's very hectic and crazy, but I really love it."

Eller is part of a program in which about 80 students are on a musical theater track, while another 500 study other types of acting.

Her education in theater started at roughly the same time she was going to see Ariel at Disneyland.

"I did theater camps when I was 7," she said. "The first show I did at school was when I was in sixth grade.

"I've had vocal coaching all through my time at NYU, and all the time I was at high school."

A soprano, she also sings in an a cappella group at college, N'Harmonics, several of whose members have gone on to appear in "Glee" and on Broadway.

She has appeared in several musicals at NYU, including the lead in "Bonnie and Clyde," and appreciates what she is learning in North Shore's production.

"This is the most spectacular show I've ever done, and most technical show I've ever done, with flight and special effects," Eller said.

She also admires the costumes, which were created for this show by the Maine State Musical Theatre.

"The pink dress Ariel wears in the palace with Eric is gorgeous, and Sebastian is in a really awesome, sparkly cool little coat," Eller said. "Everyone has really beautiful costumes."

She likes the way her own costume helps her project the part of a mermaid.

"It's a long skirt, and it flares out at the bottom," Eller said. "It has a long train to make it look like we're underwater and beautiful fabric that looks like scales."


When: Through July 27. Shows Tuesday to Thursday at 7:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.; matinees Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Additional matinee Thursday, July 24, at 2 p.m.

Where: North Shore Music Theatre, 62 Dunham Road, Beverly

Tickets & info: Price range $50 to $75. Kids 18 and under save 50 percent on Family Fridays, July 11 and 18 at 8 p.m. For tickets and information, call 978-232-7200, visit, or visit the box office in person at 62 Dunham Road.


(c)2014 The Salem News (Beverly, Mass.)

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Source: Salem News (MA)

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