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Repertory company presenting 'The Little Mermaid' through Feb. 14

Production is pulling out all the stops for special effects at Firehouse Theater

"The Little Mermaid" has arrived at the Firehouse Arts Center.

Pacific Coast Repertory Theatre (PCRT) is kicking off 2016 with the Disney musical that has captured hearts with the story of Ariel and songs including "Under the Sea," "Kiss the Girl" and "Part of Your World."

"This is a great coming-of-age story with a strong feminist character. While she deviates from her father's wishes, like many of us have in our own lives, she ultimately earns his blessing," said PCRT co-artistic director David Judson, who is directing this production. "She looks outside her world to find happiness -- and she does not let appearance or beliefs bother her, but rather she searches for one with a genuine heart like hers."

The show opened last weekend and continues through Feb. 14 at the Firehouse Arts Center with evening performances on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. matinees on Saturdays and Sundays.

Tomorrow's matinee also offers a chance to have a picture taken with the cast.

"The Little Mermaid" is based on a tale by Hans Christian Andersen. Ariel, King Triton's youngest daughter, wishes to pursue the human Prince Eric in the world above and bargains 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.

"Ultimately, all the creatures, under and above the sea, come together and accept one another," Judson said. "Wouldn't that be nice in the world we live in?"

Judson is directing this show while PCRT's co-founder Pat Parr is serving as music director. The professional production team is led by Brittany Danielle, choreographer; Pat Brandon, scenic designer; and Mike Oesch, lighting designer.

Judson said his family discovered the delightful mermaid while on vacation.

"My three kids were the very first children to ever ride The Little Mermaid ride at Disneyland, and were featured in a 'cutting the ribbon' news story," he recalled. "We (PCRT) are privileged to be first out of the gate to produce this show professionally here."

The production design team is "pulling out all the stops," he added, with bubble and fog machines, black lighting, high-definition projections, and new special effects LED lighting "to help transport our guests under the sea."

In addition, the talented cast was chosen after hundreds auditioned to supply the right mix for the show.

Bay Area actress Catherine Williamson stars as Ariel. She was also in the PCRT's "Chicago." Nathaniel Rothrock appears as Prince Eric, Noel Anthony plays King Triton and Allison F. Rich is Ursula.

Under the Sea

What: Disney's "The Little Mermaid"

Who: Pacific Coast Repertory Theatre

When: Now through Feb. 14

Where: Firehouse Arts Center, 4444 Railroad Ave.

Tickets: $18-$39. Go to www.firehousearts.org, call 931-4848, or purchase at the theater box office.

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