Inland Pacific Ballet presents ‘The Little Mermaid’
Inland Pacific Ballet returns this spring with its spectacular landmark production of The Little Mermaid, the classic tale about a young mermaid willing to give up her life in the sea for love. This colorful and engaging production combines classical ballet and creative puppetry to create a magical ocean world with a cast of delightful sea creatures, magnificent sets, elaborate costumes, and innovative aerial technology to enhance the underwater illusion and bring The Little Mermaid to life. This enchanting undersea adventure will hold only four performances at the Lewis Family Playhouse in Rancho Cucamonga during the weekend of April 29 and 30, 2023.
Based on the original Hans Christian Andersen story, which was then brought into pop culture by Disney animation, The Little Mermaid is a story of young love from two very different worlds. The mermaid princess leaves her underwater paradise and meets a handsome prince on the surface. As the story unfolds, she must decide how much she is willing to sacrifice for her new-found love. Unlike the dark ending of the original story, this original ballet from Inland Pacific Ballet has created a surprise ending that adds to the enjoyment of the traditional tale.
The Little Mermaid features IPB Company dancer Jenna Valdez as the Little Mermaid. She hails from Redlands and has been performing with IPB since 2018. IPB Ballet Master Reece Taylor, who has been performing with IPB since 2005 and resides in Fontana, dances as the Prince. In addition, guest artist Fredrick Eric Davis, who was a member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble as well as performing with the Dance Theatre of Harlem Company on national and international tours, joins IPB’s The Little Mermaid in the role of the Seagull.
“The Little Mermaid has become one of IPB’s most beloved productions by many families, and we are thrilled to bring it back for the first time since 2019. Our story is told with high-level classical ballet, magical sea creature puppets, and a beautiful sound collage of classical music curated by Victoria Koenig to create a magical experience. From the opening scene the audience can almost feel as if they too are gracefully floating under the sea with the sea life, and the shipwreck scene with its unique aerial sequence creates a very intense moment of drama,” exclaims IPB Executive Director, Zaylin Cano. “The familiarity of The Little Mermaid story is a plus and it’s great to see the delight in young children who come to see the show, but adults and anyone who has never attended a ballet performance will also enjoy the story in a new way, through the music and movement of dance.”
Inland Pacific Ballet brought together a creative dream-team to bring The Little Mermaid to the stage with Portland-based choreographers Daniel Kirk and Eric Skinner utilizing innovative aerial technology to create the feeling of a real underwater environment. New lighting design by Stephen Yarbrough adds to the illusion, along with internationally acclaimed scenic designer Nancy Seruto’s creative set designs. Designers Craig Sheppard and Jeanne Nolden created a spectacular blend of ornate costumes and delightful puppet sea creatures that swirl and spin. Additional puppet creatures created were created in 2019 by Jesse Mooney-Bullock of MoonBull Studio (custom puppet works, fine art sculpture engineered for live performance), and former Inland Pacific Ballet Artistic Director Victoria Koenig conceived a lush, sweeping sound collage of great composers, more like a cinematic score than a traditional ballet soundtrack, which includes the music of classical composers Ravel, Debussy, Britten, Vaughan Williams, Janacek, and Dvorak.
Set under and above the high seas, the resulting ballet production has been hailed as “… visually stunning…. an underwater Lion King,” where “puppetry and dancing combine to create a magical ocean world.” Audiences of all ages will enjoy The Little Mermaid where under-the-sea creatures are a feast for the eyes.
Inland Pacific Ballet, founded in 1994 by Southern California natives Victoria Koenig and Kevin Frank Myers, quickly became one of Southern California’s cultural jewels. Its mission is to build and sustain a professional ballet company in the Inland Empire of Southern California, committed to producing exquisitely staged productions of full-length classic story ballets as well as presenting the best in contemporary choreography.
The Little Mermaid has performances on Saturday, April 29 at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.; and Sunday, April 30 at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., at Lewis Family Playhouse, Rancho Cucamonga. Tickets range from $32 – $73 with senior/child/group rates available. For reservations and information, please visit IPBALLET.org.