Charlotte Ballet sticks to lighter side of ‘Little Mermaid’

James Kopecky stars as the prince and Alessandra Ball James as the Little Mermaid during the production’s Charlotte Ballet premiere last month of “The Little Mermaid.” It will run for three shows at the Gaillard Center.

It’s long been a modern children’s favorite, that heartwarming cartoon from under the sea, with its singing sea life, trident-bearing papa bear and the impossible romance between a beautiful mermaid and a land-faring prince made possible only by the powers of love and magic.

But Disney’s animated classic “The Little Mermaid” leaves out a few details proposed in Hans Christian Anderson’s 1837 original tale, such as the cutting off of the Little Mermaid’s tongue, the excruciating pain in her newly given feet, the prince’s decision to marry another despite such extreme efforts to win his love. There also was that bit about the Little Mermaid receiving a sentence to serve humankind good deeds as a “daughter of the air” for 300 years, adding a day to her sentence for each tear she shed.

Call it old-fashioned if you like, but that’s a bummer of an ending for a fairy tale then and now, and Anderson’s original story provoked just as much controversy when it was published as it does today. Disney rightly expected that fading out on a heartbroken, tear-streaked Ariel as she endured her first day among fellow disembodied mermaid traitors in a soulless purgatory probably wouldn’t woo a generation of modern-day moviegoers.

Charlotte Ballet shares a similar insight with Disney, having adapted a lighter version of the classic for the kid-friendly stage production currently touring the region. Mark Diamond choreographed the company’s rendition, with costumes by Aimee J. Coleman and sets designed by Howard Jones.

Charlotte Ballet Presents: “Little Mermaid” will run for three shows at the Gaillard Center, 95 Calhoun St., this weekend. The show’s Saturday performances will begin with a matinee at 2 p.m. followed by a second showing at 7 p.m. Sunday’s performance will begin at 2 p.m.

Tickets range from $16 to $81 and are available online at or by calling 843-242-3099.

Go to the venue’s website or call 843-724-5212 for additional performance information. Go to for more information on the production.

The roots of Americana are long. They twist and turn around surprising influences, entwining a seed that’s much more diverse that the singular connotation that the genre “Americana” brings to mind today. Americana’s roots are so sprawling, in fact, that two original ballets and an original score were needed to unfurl its cultural history.

“American Tapestry” is a collaborative production pairing the dance of Ballet Evolution, a Charleston-based performance arts collective, with a classical concert by Chamber Music Charleston.

The event features two programs, beginning with an original ballet designed to bring the “amber waves of grain” and the “purple mountain’s majesty” of America’s many landscapes to the stage. For that program, the American String Quartet will perform several of Dvorak’s most accomplished compositions, adapted for the ballet to salute the traditions of folk music and inspire the imagery of early American landscapes.

The evening carries on with a second ballet premiere and the debut of local composer and music director Laura Ball’s original score, “Soldier’s Serenade.” The choreography and composition weave a performance that draws on the themes of victory, valor and peace and aims to honor the sacrifices of service members throughout American history.

“American Tapestry” explores the origins of what it means to be “American,” using as its vehicle dance, visual art and music to carry audiences through the sprawling history of this nation, the cultures, struggles and victories of its people and the vast beauty of its land.

“American Tapestry” will run at the Sottile Theater, 44 George St., Friday and Saturday night, beginning at 7:30 p.m. each night. Tickets are $13 for students, $18 for seniors and $18-$39 for general audience. Tickets are available online at www.Ballet, or at the Sottile Theater box office.

Go to or to learn more about the show and the companies involved.