little mermaid gavilan college theater broadway south bay little theatre productions
The Mersisters take center stage during “The Little Mermaid.” Photo: Tim Ahlin

The massive boat that anchors the opening number in “The Little Mermaid” showcases a scale that audiences likely have never seen before in a South County production.

With an advanced projection and sound system complementing the large set pieces, elaborate costumes and cast of 70, the organizers of “The Little Mermaid” aim to bring a Broadway-caliber performance to the local area.

More than 1,200 people attended the July 28-30 opening weekend for “The Little Mermaid” at the Gavilan College Theater.

Broadway South Bay, Little Theatre Productions and Gavilan College have teamed up to bring what is being billed as the first full-length Disney-licensed show to Gilroy.

The show continues Fridays through Sundays through Aug. 13.

Two weeks before opening night, Ken Christopher of Broadway South Bay and the team behind the production were busy calibrating the projection system that had just been installed in the theater.

The costumes from Las Vegas had also arrived, and cast members were memorizing their lines. The vision for “The Little Mermaid,” which began as a casual conversation last fall, was finally becoming a reality, Christopher said.

“We’re about to pull off something that in my heart I feel is really, really special,” he said. “The buzz is just building and building.”

And the community has responded. Christopher said social media is abuzz with glowing reviews from audience members, and the post-show meet-and-greets with audience members have been a “huge success as well.”

little mermaid gavilan college theater broadway south bay little theatre productions
Nicole King-Yarbrough (performing as Ariel) and Tomas Eredia (Sebastian) work through a scene of “The Little Mermaid” at the Gavilan College Theater. The musical runs select days through Aug. 13. Photo: Tim Ahlin

“Everyone wants photos with Ariel, Prince Eric, Ursula, Flounder, Sebastian and the whole cast,” he said. “Seeing families and children light up when meeting us in real life is one of the greatest feelings in the world.

“Songs are pitch perfect, costumes were amazing, light and sound were flawless. I couldn’t be more proud of the cast.”

The cast of 70 includes seasoned actors as the leads—Christopher as Prince Eric, Nicole King-Yarbrough as Ariel and Hilary Little as Ursula—as well as a large contingent of youth and adults, many of whom are being part of a musical for the first time. Christopher added that the cast also has families performing together.

“It’s been a great way to bring people together that have never traditionally done musical theater in South County,” he said.

Part of the goal of bringing “The Little Mermaid” to Gavilan College was to provide an educational experience for students, Christopher said. To that end, the production is offering apprenticeships and college credit for students, who are in charge of a variety of tasks, including stage management, cosmetology, lights and more.

They also help out with moving the 20-by-8-foot wooden boat, the largest set piece in the production, which plays a starring role. It holds nine performers during the opening number, including Christopher who sings on its bow. It is also able to split in two during a scene where it gets caught in the middle of a devastating storm.

The ship made its public debut in the Morgan Hill Freedom Fest parade, where cast members handed out thousands of pieces of promotional material to attendees, according to Christopher.

Little has been heading up Little Theatre Productions in Gilroy for about a decade, and has been active on the stage for most of her life.

She described playing Ursula, the tentacled villain of the musical, as “delicious and fun,” adding that it’s been a challenge hitting the low notes after singing soprano in choir.

“I’m borderline evil and funny,” Little said of Ursula.

She added that the excitement in the community continues to grow in anticipation of the musical, and ticket sales are going fast.

“This is a really great collaboration of all these different teams,” Little said. “It’s been so rewarding.” 

Christopher said that with the steep layout of the 430-seat Gavilan theater, there is no bad seat in the house.

“With this whole screen projector and larger-than-life sets, the audience will feel like they’ve truly gone under the sea,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked to work with better partners than Hilary Little of Little Theatre Productions and the whole Gavilan Theatre department. Our three organizations have truly created something special that will further the promotion of the arts and live theater in the community.”

“The Little Mermaid” continues Aug. 4-6 and Aug. 11-13 at the Gavilan College Theater, 5055 Santa Teresa Blvd. in Gilroy. Showtimes are 7:30pm Fridays and Saturdays, and 1pm on Sundays. For information and tickets, visit

little mermaid gavilan college theater broadway south bay little theatre productions
A boat carrying Ken Christopher (right, as Prince Eric) and others is the largest set piece in the musical. Photo: Tim Ahlin
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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.


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