Kurtis Brown is a familiar face on the Lexington Children’s Theatre stage. But he’s not used to being joined by his father and his sister.
They are all together though for the Children’s Theatre’s 15th annual Summer Family Musical.
Kurtis began performing with LCT when he joined the theater’s Starlight Singers, an elite musical theater ensemble for high school students, in his freshman year at the School for Creative and Performing Arts at Lafayette High School. He will portray Chef Louis in LCT’s production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. His father, John Brown, will play a pilot, and his sister, Kelsey, a senior at the University of Georgia who was active at the Children’s Theatre growing up, will play a jellyfish and a maid.
“LCT is a very special place and I’m so excited to be back — and have a chance for my brother and dad to join in on the fun!” Kelsey wrote in an email.
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Kurtis says, “This has been a fantastic summer. Getting to share the stage with my family has been a dream.”
Anne Marie Swisher, an LCT veteran who is playing her first leading role in Little Mermaid, says, “Getting to work with many different families is always a joy. It has allowed me to meet so many wonderful families in the community, that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.”
The purpose of the Summer Family Musical is to engage families in all aspects of theater.
“You get to build a community, build a family,” says Jeremy Kisling, director of Little Mermaid and LCT associate artistic director in charge of education.
This year, nine families are in the show. Past productions have included The Wizard of Oz, Disney’s Beauty & the Beast, Seussical the Musical, Annie and Shrek, Kelsey Brown’s last LCT show.
“You choose titles that have both young people and adults, so they are age appropriate,” Kisling says.
The story follows Ariel, a mermaid struggling to accept her life in the sea. After going to the surface, she falls in love with a human prince. To experience life on land with her beloved prince, she makes a deal with the evil sea witch, Ursula. The deal allows her to be a human for three days, but when things go wrong on land her dad, King Triton, must step in to save the day.
About 185 people auditioned for The Little Mermaid. The actors must go through an acting, singing and dancing audition.
Disney’s film version of The Little Mermaid, based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, was released in 1989 and is widely seen as the movie that revived the company’s animation studio.
Kisling says he hopes that everyone who comes to watch the show will understand the importance of home and family.
“LCT’s The Little Mermaid is taking an already fantastic story and bringing it to life on stage. It’s colorful, fun and very imaginative,” Brown says. “I’m thrilled to take part in the magic.”