UA alumni to perform in million dollar show

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Prince Eric’s ship for the set was built by members of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.  Photo courtesy of Andi Martin

Sam West

All of this can be seen at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s upcoming performance of the classic Disney musical “The Little Mermaid.” The play boasts a million dollar budget that will be reflected in both the skill of its performers and the quality of its props, sets and costumes. The orchestra for “The Little Mermaid” also features four University of Alabama alumni in its ranks.

J. Cameron Barnett will play the part of Sebastian in the upcoming show. The actor got involved with the ASF when they held an audition in New York City.

Barnett has portrayed Ariel’s crustacean companion in the past. The actor said he enjoys performing comedic parts because characters who serve to make the audience laugh often have a hidden emotional pain to them.

“As an actor, [a comedic role] offers you a lot more depth than you think,” 
Burnett said.

The quality of the ASF’s production extends beyond its actors. The show features an orchestra of professional musicians, all of whom hail from the central Alabama area. “The Little Mermaid” will be UA alumna and horn player Brenda Luchsinger’s debut with the company.

Luchsinger attended plays at the ASF for a few years before she became involved with the company. She has also previously worked with several other performers in the orchestra.

“I’m just excited to have my first show at the Shakespeare Festival,” Luchsinger said. “I’ve been going to shows for a while now, they’re always so well done… with fantastic actors, great choreography and wonderful music.”

Percussionist Andi Martin will also play in the pit. Martin got his undergraduate degree from UA, and first became involved with the ASF by working with his sister on a performance of “The Man of La Mancha.”

The performer has been playing the drums since middle school. He enjoys the creativity involved in music and giving “everything he has” during a performance.

“It’s very freeing, and very emotionally driven, and I actually really appreciate that,” Martin said.

“The Little Mermaid” will feature the many well-known songs that audiences will already be familiar with such as “Kiss the Girl” and “Under the Sea.” Martin said he is looking forward to the crowd’s reactions to these iconic pieces.

“I can already tell that a lot of the famous songs that are going to be in there are going to be a lot of fun to play, especially ‘Under the Sea,’ which has a lot of percussion stuff going on,” he said.

Barnett said he enjoys performing in well-known musicals.

“You can look out in the audiences and see faces lighting up,” he said. “Because, ‘The Little Mermaid,’ the movie came out in like the late eighties, so it covers a 
few generations.”

Barnett said the play’s familiar tunes would inspire joyful reactions in both kids and parents.

“It’s truly a magical piece,” he said.