Based on the beloved Hans Christian Andersen story and the classic film, Disney’s The Little Mermaid is delighting audiences at the Walnut Street Theatre now through January 2, 2022. Phindie talks to Sean Thompson, who stars as Prince Eric.
Debra Danese: What was your first exposure to The Little Mermaid?
Sean Thompson: Funny enough, one of the very first memories in my life is seeing the animated film in movie theatres with my Mom-Mom. I can still remember sitting in the theatre looking up at the big screen for the first time. So, it’s really cool to bring it full-circle now and I definitely would like to dedicate these performances to my grandmother.
DD: We last spoke in 2019 when you were preparing for your role as “Warner” in WST’s Legally Blonde. What have been some career highlights since then?
ST: After Legally Blonde, I went on to play “Clark Gable” in the Broadway tryout production of Chasing Rainbows, the Judy Garland musical. Just a day before the pandemic shut live theatre down for so long, I opened as “Cliff” in a stellar production of Cabaret up at Bristol Riverside Theatre. Now that live performance is making a comeback, aside from The Little Mermaid, you’ll be able to catch some TV concert work I have coming up in the new year.
DD: You mentioned at that time that you have worked at WST in some capacity since you were 22. What have been some of your favorite moments there over the years?
ST: Wow, that’s a great question. I have so many wonderful Walnut memories from over the years. I’ve made so many dear friendships there. I think of my dressing roommates from past shows; I’ve always had a good time practically living with them over the course of a production. During The Wizard of Oz, Jesse Jones (who plays “Jetsam”) and I used to challenge each other to hold a plank backstage for the entirety of Dorothy’s “Over the Rainbow.” I was also working on that show when I booked my Broadway debut and I remember such support from everyone in the company as I embarked down that road.
DD: What are enjoying most about playing Prince Eric?
ST: You know, I was on a run of playing cads and villains for a while there. “Raoul” in Love Never Dies, “Warner” in Legally Blonde, even “Clark Gable.” So, it’s really a treat to play this guy who Ariel describes as sweet and sincere. He’s a very earnest young man and it’s just nice to live in that positive kind of space. I also really love my first-act number, “Her Voice.” It’s gorgeous and so different than the kinds of roles I’ve been singing lately.
DD: What’s your favorite aspect of the production?
ST: I’d have to say Glenn Casale’s direction is my favorite part of this production. He’s taken what people know as a children’s fairy tale and created from it a great story with themes accessible for adults and splashy pizzazz accessible for the kids. Glenn expects us to tell this story from a grounded, truthful point of view and that’s very refreshing to find within what was once a bubbly children’s show.
[Walnut Street Theatre, 835 Walnut Street] November 16, 2021-January 2, 2022; walnutstreettheatre.org