I don’t know when, I don’t know how, but the end of the series got here just now! Read and you’ll see, the last one to be, “Part of Your World.” Launched just in time to celebrate opening weekend of The Milburn Stone Theatre production of The Little Mermaid, TheatreBloom concludes the series by sitting down with Karalyn Joseph, who is currently playing the title character in the production.
Thank you for sitting down with us, Karalyn. Will you tell us who you’re playing and what you’ve done on stage before?
Karalyn Joseph: Hi, my name is Karalyn Joseph and I’m playing Ariel in The Little Mermaid. Recently at Milburn Stone I’ve Bring It On, I was Ava in that show. I’m a junior at Unionville High School, I’ve done West Side Story and Shrek and I was Maria in West Side and Fiona in Shrek.
What made you want to do theatre?
Karalyn: I started as a dancer and I’ve danced for 15 years. That’s kinda what I did up until I was 11 or 12. I did all the mommy-and-me dance classes, you know tapping with two-year-olds. It was very, very fun. I loved it. We actually performed in this theatre, not through Milburn Stone but on the stage here in the building. My mom also did theatre and one year she did Sound of Music at Delaware Children’s Theatre. She played Maria and I was cast as Louisa. I loved it. As soon as we started I fell in love with the cast, I fell in love with the process! I had done little kid theatre programs before but that moment was when I knew this was what I wanted to do and I’ve done seven or eight shows per year since then. I love it!
Why did you want to come audition for The Little Mermaid?
Karalyn: You know, I have never actually been able to make it through the entire movie because it’s so sad to me. As a child when I was in the princess phase? It was too scary for me, I couldn’t deal. I mean with the eels and then with Ursula it was just too much for me. But now, I don’t know…she’s just so cute and she’s so little. I love the song, “Part of Your World” and I know it’s so cliché but I just love it so much. It’s a Bambi (Director Bambi Johnson) show so I know it’s going to be amazing. I love Bambi.
Is The Little Mermaid your favorite fairytale story?
Karalyn: Well Prince Eric is definitely my favorite prince! And I have no idea why. He looks like Harry Potter, so maybe that’s it. I don’t know, Eric seems the most realistic to me, as opposed to a beast that transforms into a human or something like that. Flounder is really cute too, it’s just such a cute show, so yeah I guess it’s my favorite. Or one of my favorites.
You mentioned you had a strong dance background. Does Ariel get to do a lot of dancing in this show?
Karalyn: Yes! Actually she does. I did not know about it. There is that scene right at the beginning of act II where she gets her legs and she can’t walk. And then Scuttle helps her up, she learns to walk sort of, and then she learns to tap dance. Because that’s the normal process of things. Get legs, walk, tap dance. There’s a whole tap routine with the seagulls and fortunately I have a tap background. Tap is actually my favorite, so I’m glad she learns to tap immediately after learning how to walk. There’s also a huge dance number with the Prince, which is like a ballroom waltzing thing. It’s really cool because we do some fun lifts. It’s swoopy and big and I love it.
Is your Prince Eric a dancer as well?
Karalyn: He’s a mover. But he’s learning. And he’s strong enough to lift me up so that’s awesome.
What has been your favorite part about working on this show?
Karalyn: Bambi is amazing. If I could be anybody or anything when I grow up it would be Bambi. We get to use heelies, which is pretty fun. So instead of running everywhere you just glide and that’s super cool. Also the cast is just awesome. Everybody is so nice, everybody gets along, everybody is really uplifting and really wants to support and encourage each other. This show is just flat out fun.
What is your favorite part of the show?
Karalyn: My favorite part of the show. Oh, geez. Um? Ooh— there’s this one scene where Eric first comes up on stage and I’ve just finished a tap dance after I first get my legs, which totally makes sense. I stand up and I see him but I can’t talk so I have to mime everything out. I fall over and he catches me and it’s just this really cutely romantic scene. I love that moment.
Do you have a moment that you’re not necessarily in that you really love?
Karalyn: Oh, yeah, yeah. It’s “She’s in Love.” It’s just the best dance. It’s a fun, upbeat song. Actually, I am on stage, but I’m over in the corner in my own little world, I’m not really participating in the song. That’s my jam song in the car. I almost got into a car crash because I was jamming way too hard to this song. I suddenly looked up and was going off the road. But seriously, best song ever.
What has been the biggest challenge about performing as the title role of the show?
Karalyn: For me, the challenge has been in my mind. When little kids are watching the show I want this to be just like the movie for them. I want this to be just what they expect it to be. But I don’t want to copy her and I want to be my own person. But I want them to see me as the Ariel they know and recognize while still doing my own thing on the stage. So that’s been the challenge, finding the happy medium between Karalyn-Ariel and Ariel-Ariel.
What’s it like working with Judah Latshaw, who plays Flounder, in this production?
Karalyn: Oh my gosh! He is quite possibly the cutest little person I have ever met. His entire family is just beautiful. He is so polite, and so kind, and so prepared. His handwriting is perfect for a nine-year-old. I don’t understand how he gets such perfect handwriting. But he is the cutest and he’s so nice. He’s so gentlemanly. He is just so adorable and wonderful!
What is your favorite human thing?
Karalyn: Favorite human thing, ooh. Not the fork. I feel like I’m going to poke myself in the eye. I’m not sure, there are just so many things. I think my favorite is Eric’s Bust/Portrait because that’s just kind of cool. Actually it’s awesome.
What would you say doing this production has taught you about yourself?
Karalyn: Honestly? This is so cheesy, but I relate to Ariel a lot. I’m a junior in high school so I’m ready to get out there in the world and go discovering new things. She’s there too. There’s a scene where she runs away and goes to find what she thinks she really wants in life. It’s kind of interesting to all of the sudden be put in a situation where you have to act out exactly what you’re feeling in real life. And it’s like “Oh my gosh, would I react like Ariel does and just run away?” Or would I stand up and face things? It’s an interesting perspective to look at.
Would you ever want to be a mermaid?
Karalyn: Pfft. Is that even a question? Yes! Yes, of course I’d want to be a mermaid! Definitely! How many more ways can I say yes?
What is it that you’re hoping people will take away from seeing The Little Mermaid?
Karalyn: Well, I’m hoping they’ll take away a fun show, especially for the kids. I hope that it’s fun for them. For the adults, I think it’s a really powerful show. I mean, yeah, it’s a princess story, but it’s a Disney princess story. So it’s a good princess story. It’s different from the movie, there are a lot of underscored adult themes. Not adult in a bad way— like not naughty or dangerous— but more mature themes that are kind of interesting to pick up on. Like the whole “You are a mermaid you cannot marry this human” thing. It’s discrimination outside of your own kind. Underwater versus air, other than breathing because that’s an issue, there shouldn’t be a difference.
Why should people come see The Little Mermaid?
Karalyn: It’s amazing. I’m having so much fun with it. I call my mom or I call my friend after every single rehearsal and say, “Oh my gosh! Guess what happened tonight?” It’s just so exciting and we’re all having so much fun. It’s definitely going to be one of the ones where I cry when it’s over. Everyone should come see it because it’s awesome.
The Little Mermaid opens on April 15 and plays through May 1, 2016 at The Milburn Stone Theatre— 1 Seahawk Drive in North East, MD. For tickets call the box office at 410-287-1037 or purchase them online.
To read Part 1 of the “Part of Your World” interview series— featuring Prince Eric and Grimsby, click here.
To read Part 2 of the “Part of Your World” interview series— featuring Flounder, click here.
To read Part 3 of the “Part of Your World” interview series— featuring Sebastian, click here.
To read Part 4 of the “Part of Your World” interview series— featuring Ursula, click here.