I am SO excited to share this Diana Huey interview with you guys. When I got asked if I wanted to interview ARIEL – as in, Ariel from The Little Mermaid, I was like, “Uhmmm, YES PLEASE! It’s ARIEL!!” The musical version of Disney’s classic is in town NOW through October 22nd at the Durham Performing Arts Center (they are traveling all over the country right now!) and I had the pleasure of speaking with Diana Huey, the amazing actress who is playing Ariel in the current tour. I actually had the privilege of seeing the show on Tuesday night and it was AMAZING. I legitimately cried during Part of Your World. The costumes, the set design, the music… it was PHENOMENAL. I loved getting the chance to chat with Diana!! We chatted for quite some time and had the best time getting to know each other a little bit! Enjoy just a few of my favorite parts of our interview below…
ME: Okay, I have to ask… What’s it like to get to play such an iconic character like Ariel?
DIANA: It’s a dream come true. It’s everything I wanted to do as a kid! When I was little, I would pretend to be Ariel at the beach or pool…
ME: Yeah, me too! I would always pretend I was Ariel!! What little girl didn’t?
DIANA: Exactly! I’ve always loved the water. Anytime there was water nearby, I was in it… So playing Ariel is so satisfying for both my inner child and my adult self.
ME: When did you know you wanted to perform?
DIANA: When I was little! My family always jokes that performing was a very obvious thing that I wanted to do from a young age. I was always singing and dancing around the house and putting on little skits. When I was three, I was in North Carolina at my aunt’s house for Christmas. I got a pink feather boa as a gift and I walked around the rest of that vacation with it on pretending to be a movie star and singer… everyone knew where this was going. They all said, “So we guess Diana wants to get into show business!” Then I started studying music and was involved with it all through school. I took voice lessons in 5th grade and studied through college.
ME: Where did you go to school and what did you study?
DIANA: I went to a school in Seattle called Cornish College of the Arts and studied theater. I was an acting major with an emphasis on the performing arts… it was the closes thing to a “musical theater degree” that they had at the time. When I was there, I really missed singing because I was just studying theater.
ME: How did the opportunity come about for you to audition for an become Ariel?
DIANA: I auditioned in the spring of 2016 for the broadway version of The Little Mermaid in New York… I had received a call asking me to audition and OBVIOUSLY I wanted to! I found out I got the part a couple weeks later. It was so surreal. We started rehearsals in November of 2016 in Seattle at the Fifth Avenue theater. It was great timing because I got to go home to Seattle and be home for the holidays for the first time since I’d moved to New York. We rehearsed in Seattle and ran the show there as their holiday show.
ME: For someone who is a life long fan of the Disney movie version of The Little Mermaid, what can someone expect if they’ve never seen the Broadway musical version?
DIANA: The tricky thing is the musical and the movie are slightly different… in good ways though. The musical goes a little deeper into character development. We look a little deeper into Ariel the person, rather than Ariel the teenager… it really focuses on the fact that she feels like she doesn’t belong under the sea. She doesn’t fit in. There is a lot of self-discovery and personal development for her AND for Prince Eric. In the musical, they go into the fact that he does not want to be the king, he wants to be out on the sea and free… Both Ariel and Eric are looking for that sort of thing and they both feel like they don’t fit in. It is a challenge to take (and play!) such an iconic character from a movie EVERYONE knows. I don’t want to copy it, because it’s not the same, it’s a different character. So you have to find your own way to make it honest and your own. It’s a really fun and difficult challenge… Now there are sometimes we are completely winking at the movie – this moment or that moment is a total nod to the movie. Those are fun moments.
ME: Do you have a favorite moment or song in the musical?
DIANA: You will see and hear all of the songs in the movie. “Les Poissons” is the best and totally an audience favorite – Chef Louis is amazing. Alan Mencken wrote an entire different score and additional songs for the musical. There is a lot of new music and character development and you get to know each character in a more personal way. But since Mencken did the score, it still feels and sounds like the movie… he is the voice of Disney in this generation!
My personal favorite part is getting to do Part of Your World. This moment is my childhood explosion of happiness! I was mostly excited because I thought I’d never get the part… I also love when we get to Kiss the Girl… it’s so iconic and it’s so beautiful – it’s a feeling of what I pretended to be as a little girl. It’s so fun.
ME: What do you like to do for fun when you are on the road?
DIANA: I tend to stay in a lot more when we are on the road to conserve my energy for the show. I give up my voice for half of a musical, but I still sing and talk a lot! So anytime we have an event and I’m out later than I normally am or if I’m feeling sick or anything, it’s really hard to struggle through the show. I find so much more joy in getting to do the show to the best of my ability than getting to explore the areas we travel to… but I try to get out as much as I can. But, I’m typically found in my hotel room watching Friends and How I Met Your Mother.
What about you? Have you seen The Little Mermaid musical?? Were you a fan of the movie as a kid?