"Whenever I went to
Eller is now at the other end of the line, playing Ariel in
The musical opened in
The musical's appearance at
"This show has never been east of
If Eller had to wait in line to meet Ariel at
"I went into the open call in
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
"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
"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
"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
She enjoys being part of life in
"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
"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
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
She has appeared in several musicals at
"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
"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."
'THE LITTLE MERMAID'
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