Directed by Daria Elise Troxell, “The Little Mermaid: The Aqua Terrestrial” is a rock opera designed to combine elements of popular culture with classical storytelling and folk tales in a humorous way.
It is an original production written by local playwright Janinne Chadwick, who said she's penned a new, original show for Little People's Repertory Theatre every summer for 15 years.
“I tailor-write them for 70-plus kids,” said Chadwick. “It's kind of a kids' version of 'Beach Blanket Babylon.'”
Chadwick said that the show tells the story of a mer-person living in an undersea world ruled by Nessie the Sea Witch, where youths are forced into a series of scavenger hunt games that take them to land – spoofing such pop culture icons as “E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial” and the “Hunger Games” series.
“There's sea creatures and mermaids in the dystopian world,” she said.
According to the official description, while visiting the beach in Santa Cruz one day, a small group of mermaids is discovered by some approaching surfers, one little mermaid is left behind and discovered by a young local, Eliot.
Meanwhile in the ocean, Nessie the Serpent, President Neptune, and a variety of sea creatures prepare their districts for the annual human games.
Chadwick said that there is a healthy dose of mystery and conspiracy theories in the show, as appearances are made by men in black and secret agents as they pursue mythological creatures, such as a peace-loving Bigfoot, surfing Mermaids and the Loch Ness Monster.
The show features live rock music each night, directed by Musical Director Arindam Krishna Das, and includes songs by The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and the B-52s.
According to Chadwick, the show has been a “huge community effort,” as parents, LPRT alumni, and others have come together to rehearse, chaperone, and build sets.
“We put the entire show up in 6 weeks,” she said.
Little People's Repertory Theatre is open to children between the ages of 8 and 14, Chadwick said. Many of the program's alumni have returned to help with the next generations.
“We had 22 kids graduate last year,” she said. “We had a new crop of kids coming up this year and we were pleasantly surprised.”
The show opens at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 24 and will run for two weeks until Sunday, Aug. 3. A pair of Sunday matinees are scheduled at 2 p.m.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit Little People's Repertory Theatre at www.lprt.org.