Barry McNamara  |  Published April 13, 2023

‘The Little Mermaid’

Tickets nearly sold out for production of Disney musical to be performed April 20-23 at Wells Theater.

Disney's The Little Mermaid will be performed April 20-23 at Wells Theater. Disney's “The Little Mermaid” will be performed April 20-23 at Wells Theater.MONMOUTH, Ill. – Tickets are selling briskly for the five performances of The Little Mermaid at Monmouth College’s Wells Theater, April 20-23.

Directed by Monmouth theatre professor Vanessa Campagna, the stage adaptation of the 1989 Disney movie is a collaboration between the Monmouth College departments of theatre and music, the Buchanan Center for the Arts, the Galesburg Community Foundation and the United Way of Greater Warren County.

Originally scheduled for four performances, a fifth show – a 2 p.m. matinee on April 22 – was added recently due to the high demand for tickets.

“We have a very talented cast,” said Campagna, who is also choreographing the show and serving as its props designer and co-scenic designer with Grace Cornelius ’24 of Warrenville, Illinois. “Our department is just in a tremendous period of growth. We’ve had well over 100 participants in theatre this year. The talent that they are bringing is quite extraordinary. I think audiences will just be amazed. Our ensemble is committed and energetic. It’s one of the most positive and energetic casts I’ve ever worked with.”

The combined cast and crew of nearly 70 have been working on the production since Feb. 20, with some time off for the College’s spring and Easter breaks. The cast’s ages range from 8 to adults from the community.


Keeping it familiar

Campagna said she chose to present the College’s production in a way that would be familiar to longtime fans of the story.

VANESSA CAMPAGNA: in addition to directing the musical, the veteran Monmouth theatre professor is... VANESSA CAMPAGNA: in addition to directing the musical, the veteran Monmouth theatre professor is wearing several other hats, including choreographer, props designer and co-scenic designer.“As far as my vision, I don’t have a really heavy-handed concept on this show, which is a little different for me. It comes down to ‘Who’s the show for?’ I want the kids to be happy,” she said, referring to the many children who will be in the audience.

Once upon a time, Campagna was one of those children herself, influenced by the wonder of the Disney film. She said a cassette tape still exists of her singing a tune from The Little Mermaid when she was 3 years old.

“Growing up in the late ’80s, the early ’90s, it’s part of my memory, my cultural memory, my artistic memory,” she said.

Those familiar with the film will notice a few differences, including a twist on how matters resolve between the characters Ariel (played by Emma Romano ’25 of Wilmington, Illinois) and Ursula (played by Gabriela Madu ’23 of Montego Bay, Jamaica).

“I think audiences will just be amazed. Our ensemble is committed and energetic. It’s one of the most positive and energetic casts I’ve ever worked with.” Vanessa Campagna



Madu is also providing vocal training for Edrass Chavez ’26 of Chicago, who is playing the role of Sebastian and is required by the musical’s royalty house to speak with a Jamaican accent.

Campagna said some new music was written for the musical, including an “hysterical” song for Scuttle (played by community member John Henderson), but many of the old standards remain, including “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl.”

“They preserved what worked well in the film and have taken some things in some really useful and creative directions,” she said.

Two other favorite characters in the production are Prince Eric (played by Colin Kreipe ’26 of Carlinville, Illinois) and Flounder (played by James Mayfield, the son of Monmouth mathematics and computer science professor Logan Mayfield, and his wife, Sarah).

While pulled in several directions by her various duties for the production, Campagna has received help from students in a pair of Monmouth art classes who’ve made costumes for The Little Mermaid.

# # #

Monmouth College will present “The Little Mermaid” at 7:30 p.m. April 20-22 and at 2 p.m. April 21-22 at the Wells Theater on the College’s campus. Tickets can be purchased at the Buchanan Center for the Arts in downtown Monmouth or online at monmouthcollege.edu/box-office. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, and $6 for students and faculty with a Monmouth College ID.

Listen Up …

Theatre professor Vanessa Campagna previews Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.”

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