Interview: Grace Atherholt And Amy Fenicle of THE LITTLE MERMAID at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre

Join Ariel and Flounder Under the Sea through August 6th!

By: Jul. 21, 2022

Interview: Grace Atherholt And Amy Fenicle of THE LITTLE MERMAID at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre

The Little Mermaid has captured the hearts and minds of audiences for many years. The 1989 Disney movie only loosely resembles the Hans Christian Andersen tale that was its inspiration. The Little Mermaid follows the story of Ariel, a mermaid who longs to explore the world above the ocean. As a story about longing, sacrifice, and love, it is a story that has withstood the test of time, appearing for the first time on Broadway in 2008 with music by Alan Menken, book by Doug Wright, and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater. It is the perfect summer show, and audiences can enjoy this delightful show at The Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre through August 6th. Grace Atherholt and Amy Fenicle, who portray Ariel and Flounder, took a few moments from their busy show schedule to share their insights into the production.

BWW: Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into acting.

Interview: Grace Atherholt And Amy Fenicle of THE LITTLE MERMAID at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre Atherholt: I grew up in York, PA with my wonderful parents and two siblings, but now I live in NYC! I started dancing at a very young age and then transitioned into singing in choirs, so I was used to performing on a stage. It wasn't until my junior year of high school though that I worked up enough courage to audition for the school musical. I got to be in the ensemble of Legally Blonde, and I absolutely fell in love!

Interview: Grace Atherholt And Amy Fenicle of THE LITTLE MERMAID at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre Fenicle: Hello! My name is Amy Fenicle, I'm a 29-year-old performer from Ft. Myers, Florida, and I am having a blast playing Flounder in The Little Mermaid. I grew up dancing from a very young age, so I have always been comfortable on the stage, but it wasn't until I got into community theater around age 13 that I fell in love with acting. Once I found out that I could sing, dance, and act all at the same time, I was hooked! I went to college for musical theatre and received my BFA from the University of West Florida. Since then, I have worked at regional theaters all across the country, but absolutely love any time I get to return to The Dutch Apple.

BWW: What are the differences between portraying an aquatic creature and playing a human?

Atherholt: As Ariel I get the fun opportunity to do both! It's been a fun challenge exploring how her movements would change from when she's a mermaid to when she's fully human and finding all the little things about the human world that she wouldn't know about.

Fenicle: The biggest difference is the physicality of the characters. When playing human, you try to ground yourself as much as possible, to not let any unnecessary movement distract from the action of the scene. However, with aquatic creatures, you have to constantly be moving to give the illusion of being underwater.

BWW: How do you and the rest of the cast create the impression that you are underwater?

Atherholt: Our amazing director Dean and our choreographer Kerry were instrumental in helping the whole cast differentiate between being on land and under the sea! It's all in our movements, from bobbing in the waves when we're partially above water and changing the way we walk to make it more like floating, to fluid movements to show we're floating or swimming. We also have an incredible set that gives the illusion you're deep underwater!

Fenicle: I have the unique experience of being on Heelys for this show, which is something I had to learn specifically for this role. It creates a really cool illusion that I'm gliding across the stage. We're also all constantly moving! The mermaids swish their tails to look like they're swimming, and King Triton "bobs" ever so slightly when you see him at the surface. It's subtle, but makes a huge difference.

Interview: Grace Atherholt And Amy Fenicle of THE LITTLE MERMAID at Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre

BWW: What is your favorite scene in the show?

Atherholt: I love "Under the Sea" and the "Les Poissons Reprise". I get to mostly watch both while onstage and they're so fun!

Fenicle: My favorite scene has to be "One Step Closer", which is one of the numbers from the musical that's not in the movie. Prince Eric teaches Ariel how to dance, saying that sometimes you don't need words to have a conversation. The pure joy shared between the two of them is infectious, and you see Ariel's dreams start to come true.

BWW: What song in the show do you think audiences will love the most?

Atherholt: "Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl" are the classics from the movie and always huge favorites with our audiences. But I think they'll love some of the new songs in the show too!

Fenicle: "Under the Sea" is the most well-known, and it's definitely the most fun number in the show. The costumes are just incredible, vocals are spot-on, and the dancing will blow you away. It's a spectacle!

BWW: If you had to pick one, what would be your favorite song in the show?

Atherholt: My favorite song to sing is the "If Only Quartet"-it's a such a beautiful song. But my overall favorite is "Positoovity"!

Fenicle: I'm going to selfishly say "She's In Love", which is not in the movie. The Mersisters and Flounder sing it about Ariel when they realize she's been acting differently since rescuing Prince Eric. I think it's fun because it gives you a little extra insight to how that impacts those closest to her.

BWW: For audiences who love the movie but have not yet seen the stage version, what should they expect in terms of similarities and differences?

Atherholt: The storyline does change slightly to fit a stage adaptation, but they will get to see all of their favorite characters and songs from the original movie. The stage version also delves further into each character with new songs and scenes!

Fenicle: All the classic songs that everyone loves from the movie are still there! The storyline is the same, so nothing's going to happen that you don't expect. But the stage version provides more backstory to some of the smaller characters, making them more relatable. At the heart of this story is love, and I think that's portrayed more through every single character on stage than it was in the movie.

BWW: One of my favorite parts of the movie is the friendship between Ariel and Flounder, which is why I asked to interview both of you. Tell us a little bit about how that relationship is portrayed in the stage production and what you've enjoyed most about developing your character.

Atherholt: Their friendship is so sweet, and I wish there were more scenes on stage to explore it, but it's still so integral to the story! Flounder is who Ariel confides in the most, and it's so much fun playing on stage with Amy! I've enjoyed getting to develop Ariel's relationships with each character, as well as her curiosity and heart.

Fenicle: The stage production has Flounder having a huge crush on Ariel, which I don't think was as prevalent in the movie. Their friendship is just as strong, and Flounder has to learn to let her go just as much as King Triton does. Flounder's actually the one to speak up and say "It's what she wants" when the choice comes for Ariel to stay or leave the sea, despite the fact that he's about to lose his best friend. And I think for Ariel, Flounder represents her childhood, so saying goodbye to him at the end of the show to start her new life with Eric is very symbolic of her growing up. Grace makes my job so easy though, as she is just as kind to me as Ariel is to Flounder. That's been the best part really, developing a friendship in real life that is so easily transferable to the stage.

BWW: If you could be in a stage production of any Disney movie other than The Little Mermaid (whether the stage production actually exists yet or not), which one would you choose to perform?

Atherholt: Tangled! It's one of my all-time favorite Disney movies and I would LOVE to see it come to the stage!

Fenicle: I would love to play Anna in Frozen one day! She's always been my favorite, and the stage version of that show is so cool (no pun intended)!

Get your tickets before it's too late! Visit for information about the show.