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Interview: Kate Piering of THE LITTLE MERMAID at 4 Community Theatre

This production runs July 15 though July 30th

Interview: Kate Piering of THE LITTLE MERMAID at 4 Community Theatre

Based on one of Hans Christian Andersen's most beloved stories and the classic animated film, Disney's The Little Mermaid is a hauntingly beautiful love story for the ages. With music by eight-time Academy Award winner, Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater and a compelling book by Doug Wright, this fishy fable will capture your heart with its irresistible songs, including "Under the Sea," "Kiss the Girl" and "Part of Your World." Ariel, King Triton's youngest daughter, wishes to pursue the human Prince Eric in the world above, bargaining with the evil sea witch, Ursula, to trade her tail for legs. But the bargain is not what it seems, and Ariel needs the help of her colorful friends, Flounder the fish, Scuttle the seagull and Sebastian the crab to restore order under the sea. Disney's The Little Mermaid offers a fantastic creative opportunity for rich costumes and sets, as well as the chance to perform some of the best-known songs from the past 30 years.

We chat with Kate Piering who plays Ariel in the production

How does it feel to to have live audiences and theatre back?

It's the best feeling in the world! While I love that we live in a world where we can still have theatre in virtual settings when we need to, I truly believe there is nothing quite like having a live audience. My favorite thing about performing is being able to connect with audiences and share a story with them, and being able to do that live is such a unique and energizing feeling.

What inspired you to pursue theatre and performing?

I grew up in a family that listened to show tunes whenever we could, as well as started dancing when I was only 4, so it was somewhat engrained in me from a young age. I remember watching my older brother on stage and being in awe. My very first show I played a cow that said "meow" instead of "moo" and I was mesmerized. Since then, I've fallen in love with performing in every facet; some of my favorite experiences, biggest life lessons, and strongest relationships have stemmed from theater, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

How does this role compare to other roles you've played?

I love whenever I get the chance to play really well-known roles that originated in movies. However, in doing that, it comes with this pressure to play the role similar to or exactly like the movie. I felt this way when I played Dorothy Gale and wanted to make sure that I didn't resort to Judy Garland's portrayal. It's so easy to adapt to the movie version of the role, but bringing your own flair is so pertinent and makes the role more unique.

What was the process for developing your charachter?

My favorite thing about Ariel is how headstrong and determined she is. She never wavers in what she wants or lets others change her feelings. I have always been a really stubborn and headstrong person myself, so I've been playing with how I can bring my own personality to Ariel and use those character traits to my advantage in portraying her. I grew up watching and loving the Disney movie and wanted to capture the essence of the character from the movie, but also bring my own personality and heart into the role. It's important for me to show Ariel as not just a princess, but also a strong-willed and thoughtful young woman who is figuring out who she is and what she wants.

Do you have a favorite song in the show?

I can't choose just one! I love "One Step Closer" because it is really the first moment where you get to see both Ariel and Eric being vulnerable and sharing their feelings with one another (and the audience!) at the same time. It's such a pivotal part in their relationship and a huge turning point for Eric and where he is at with his own feelings. It's also fun to waltz, and James Vair sings it beautifully! I also love "If Only" where Ariel, Eric, Sebastian, and King Triton all sing together. Not only is it a beautiful piece on its own, but it's also such a remarkable moment where you get to see each character share what they want and how they intertwine with one another.

Did you face any challenges with your charachter or the production?

The biggest challenge I've faced with this character is wanting to maintain Ariel's natural curiosity and love for the world around (and above) her, while still refraining from leaning too much into the traditional Disney-fied version of her. I really want audiences to see the Ariel that they know and love, but in a unique and meaningful way. I've been working a lot with our amazing director, Ethan, and choreographer, Sam, to find little moments where I can make Ariel relatable and authentic for all kinds of audience members. It's been a challenge, but I'm really excited to keep bringing it together.

How was working with the rest of the cast and the creative team?

They are simply the best. I feel so at home when I walk through the doors for rehearsal. They are some of the kindest, most talented, and uplifting individuals I have ever worked with. Ethan Nienaber has been such an incredible director to work with. He knows how to bring out authentic, individual acting choices and pushes you to lean into your own experiences when playing with a character. Sam Stoll is a brilliant choreographer and assistant director who has the most amazing eye for how to bring big pictures together in a truly meaningful way. Finally, Dan Oie is such a talented musician and knows just what to say and do to bring out the best vocals in people. This cast is so fun and will surely make every audience member smile!

What do you hope the audience takes away from seeing this production?

I hope that audiences walk away with an understanding that it's okay to feel different and like you don't belong. In a world where normalcy and uniformity is applauded, I think this show is a good reminder that being different is not a bad thing! Ariel, Eric, Sebastian, and King Triton all feel at one point in the show that they are not on the path that they should be or that they are doing something wrong. I want audiences to know that feeling those feelings is not a bad thing and sometimes it's okay to embrace the uncomfortable and be different. I also hope audiences walk away with the songs stuck in their head and having seen a fantastic show! They won't regret it!

What are your favorite local spots?

I have so many I love!! My favorite pre-show meal is always Nautical Bowls in Minnetonka. My friends and I also love Sociable Ciderwerks or Indeed Brewery in Minneapolis. Finally, you can usually find me on a summer night going for a walk in Downtown Wayzata and stopping into Ben & Jerry's!

Interview: Kate Piering of THE LITTLE MERMAID at 4 Community Theatre Thank you Kate for your time!

For more show and ticket information, click the ticket link.

Photos courtesy of 4 Community Theatre

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