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BWW Interview: Carla Woods Takes Audiences Under the Sea & Behind the Scenes at TUTS' THE LITTLE MERMAID

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Running now through December 24th at the Hobby Center

BWW Interview: Carla Woods Takes Audiences Under the Sea & Behind the Scenes at TUTS' THE LITTLE MERMAID

This week Theatre Under the Stars opens their fabulous holiday show, THE LITTLE MERMAID! This classic undersea tale is packed full of Houston theatre favorites, including the lovely Carla Woods! Returning to the TUTS stage, this time as "Sebastian", Woods gave BroadwayWorld some insight on her past roles at TUTS, stepping into "Sebastian", and behind-the-scenes stories!


You've played some very fun and very different roles at TUTS over the years! Can you talk about how they've been similar and different from stepping into "Sebastian"?

I have been very fortunate to play a variety of roles here at TUTS. From Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast to Rosie in Mamma Mia and now Sebastian in The Little Mermaid. The one common theme for all three roles is that they all are the voice of reason in their own right. Mrs. Potts had a loving and gentle way of leading Belle to finding her own truth. Rosie used her humor and her straight forward attitude to help Donna through all her drama and Sebastian is the hard nose task master that uses her attention to detail and creativity to finally get Ariel what her heart desires. Stepping into the role of Sebastian seemed to be the natural progression of my journey as a performer here at TUTS.

BWW Interview: Carla Woods Takes Audiences Under the Sea & Behind the Scenes at TUTS' THE LITTLE MERMAID
Carla Woods (Sebastian) and Delphi Borich (Ariel)
in Disney's The Little Mermaid from TUTS

Photography by Melissa Taylor

Audiences are so excited to see you return to the TUTS stage as "Sebastian"! Have you encountered any challenges in taking on a role that is traditionally cast as a man?

I'm so excited to be tackling this iconic role. It has been so much fun. It is always challenging to jump into any role and find a way to make it your own. The fact that the role is usually played by a different gender just makes it all the more appealing to me. The funny thing is that I have been in the position of being cast in roles usually meant for other genders before. It's a thing for me, I guess. It's very freeing when you know that you are so far from the usual type. It gives you the chance to really play and find your own vibe. Finding the right keys for Sebastian's songs while maintaining the original feel and intention was a challenge, but I am very lucky here at TUTS to have an amazing music team led by Dr. John Cornelius who made it all come together so smoothly.

BWW Interview: Carla Woods Takes Audiences Under the Sea & Behind the Scenes at TUTS' THE LITTLE MERMAID
The cast of Disney's THE LITTLE MERMAID a??a??at TUTS.
Photography by Melissa Taylor

THE LITTLE MERMAID is naturally such a youthful, lively show, especially so with a teen ensemble made up of students from both The Humphrey's School of Musical Theatre and The River! What kind of influence does the teen ensemble have on this show both on and offstage?

I love working with the teens from Humphrey's School and The River. I have worked with the same group from The River in Beauty and the Beast and it was so awesome to see them again and get to share the stage with them. They are all a big part of this production and I get to spend a lot of time with them in "Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl." I have so much fun working with them all. We have pre show handshakes and fun moments that we share with each other on stage. They learn so much just by sharing the space with us and seeing how we work on and off stage and they really soak it up. They are very present in this production playing various fish in "Under the Sea" and maids and chefs in "Les Poissons". They are an integral part of THE LITTLE MERMAID and they have really stepped up to the challenge wonderfully.

Give us a peek into the process of putting together this production. What has the rehearsal room been like? Any hijinks or funny stories to share?

Working with Dan Knechtges is always a good time. I always say yes to any opportunity to work with him. He really lets the actors find the characters and the world with a lot of freedom. So we get to play and find out how to bring the world to life. The rehearsal room is filled with a lot of joy. We do have to wear our masks throughout the whole rehearsal process and any time we are off stage. That was challenging at first, but it has kept us all safe. There is one moment in "Under the Sea" where I am just sitting on the rock with Ariel and some of the kids from The River while the rest of the cast is dancing there butts off and I usually give a running commentary under my breath to keep us laughing "Oooh look it's the skating snails, wow the sea horses can really move, get it star fish"! If you are in the audience and you look really closely you may just catch this moment.

BWW Interview: Carla Woods Takes Audiences Under the Sea & Behind the Scenes at TUTS' THE LITTLE MERMAID
Carla Woods (Sebastian) and Mark Ivy (Chef Louis)
in Disney's The Little Mermaid from TUTS

Photography by Melissa Taylor

What are you most looking forward to about being back onstage after the past year and a half of theatre hiatus?

The transition to being back onstage has been eye opening. All of us are so excited to be back and the energy and pure joy is palpable. Initially there was that feeling of being a little rusty, but everyone was feeling that way. No matter how much you prepare and workout, there is nothing that can really keep you ready for being onstage and performing when you haven't done it for a minute. But TUTS is my safe place, my home away from home, and what a blessing it has been to be here and shake the dust off and get back to it. Let me tell you, the talent and sheer joy to perform is all over this show and it is the best welcome back I could ever have wished for. Sebastian is ready to live!!!

THE LITTLE MERMAID runs December 7 through 24 at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets start at just $40, and are available online at TUTS.com, or by contacting the TUTS Box Office by phone at (713) 558-8887 or in person by visiting the Box Office located at 800 Bagby Street.

COVID-19 Protocols:

All guests ages 12 and older will be required to show either proof of a negative COVID-19 test result or proof of vaccination, at the guest's discretion, and photo identification. Masks are required for all patrons and staff while inside the Hobby Center.


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