Lawrence Haynes (Marketing Manager): Can you tell me a little bit about the art style for Disney's Little Mermaid JR. Scenic Projections?
Brianna Spicer (Product Manager): This style is cartoonized realism. We show visible paint strokes with simplified shapes and softened background elements. We chose this style for Little Mermaid JR because it accentuates that it is a junior show while avoiding looking too similar to the animated cartoon. The settings are stylized, but still looks different from the Disney film artistically.
Lawrence: Where do you go to get inspiration for these projections?
Brianna: We garnered inspiration from various concept art pieces of underwater scenes and ships. We also found inspiration in our own backyard- though the story takes place off the coast of Denmark, the artists that worked on this package were inspired by the California coast with its own vibrant ecosystem.
Lawrence: What is your favorite scene?
Brianna: The Lagoon is my favorite scene visually. I think that the color palette is very cohesive here, and it has a great sense of depth from the foreground plants to the castle in the distance.
Lawrence: What creative decisions did you make that we should look out for?
Brianna: There are animated fireflies in the foreground that add a great touch. It's also worth noting how this setting looks different from the animated film while still retaining major elements, such as the glowing moon. We worked closely alongside Disney to make sure it doesn't infringe while still feeling reminiscent of the scene from the film.
Lawrence: How do you think these projections help with the storytelling?
Brianna: The Little Mermaid JR package helps with storytelling in multiple ways. For one, it makes the musical more immersive due to the scale and composition of the settings. It also helps convey what is happening in the story. Examples include when Eric falls off his ship, or when Ariel goes through her transformation. The ocean surface changes from calm to stormy depending on what is happening as well. In the palace hall, scene 16, the sunset and color change help to indicate that Ariel has run out of time. Any opportunity to help make the story more clear is taken advantage of.
Lawrence: Can you give readers a tip for effectively integrating these projections into a show?
Brianna: I think that using a smoke machine and bubble machine in Ursula's Lair would really help to make it cohesive with the physical set. Having minor physical set pieces for each setting that are easily swapped would up the production value immensely, for example having a palm tree for the beach scene.
The team at Broadway Media sat down with Aaron Rhyne, one of the world’s preeminent theatrical projection designers, to learn more about his A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder designs, and get some tips on what good design is all about.
In the first two months of 2019, Green Valley High School, Performing Arts Department in Nevada, piloted Broadway Media’s Scenic Projections for Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical by Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin.
Theatrical titles from Disney are a great way to introduce your students to theatre using characters and stories with which they are undoubtedly familiar. Combine them with a 60-minute or 30-minute Broadway Junior runtime and you’ve got yourself a show that’s easy to teach and fun for your kids to learn and perform!